RSPB
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Conservation status: Amber

The UK's coasts have many stretches of sheer cliffs where seabirds breed and the guillemot is one of the most numerous birds in the great 'seabird cities'. It comes to land only to nest, spending the rest of its life at sea, where it is vulnerable to oil spills. Dark brown and white, not as black as the similar razorbill, it has a 'bridled' form with a white ring round the eye and stripe behind it.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Uria aalge

Family

Auks (Alcidae)

Where to see them

Found on small areas of cliffs on the south coast of England, very locally on the coasts and islands of Wales and in a handful of places in the north of England and Northern Ireland; more widely spread on cliffs of Scotland. RSPB nature reserves such as Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire, Fowlsheugh in Grampian and Marwick Head in Orkney have large colonies. In winter it is widespread around UK coasts but usually well offshore. It is sometimes seen inshore after gales or passing by longer headlands.

When to see them

Guillemots are best seen at the nesting colonies, from March to the end of July.

What they eat

Fish and crustaceans

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-950,000 pairs--

Distribution

Key