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Conservation status: Amber

An unmistakable bird with its black back and white underparts, and distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and a tall, flattened, brightly-coloured bill. Its comical appearance is heightened by its red and black eye-markings and bright orange legs. Used as a symbol for books and other items, this clown among seabirds is one of the world's favourite birds. With half of the UK population at only a few sites it is an Amber List species.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Fratercula arctica

Family

Auks (Alcidae)

Where to see them

Best looked for at a breeding colony. Try the RSPB's Bempton Cliffs (N Yorks) and South Stack (Anglesey) reserves; the Farne Islands and Coquet Island (Northumberland); the Isle of May (off the Fife coast); and the Shetland and Orkney Islands.

When to see them

Adults arrive back at the breeding colony in March and April and leave again in mid-August. Some remain in the North Sea at winter, other move further south to the Bay of Biscay.

What they eat

Fish, especially sandeels

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-580,799 pairs--

Distribution

Key

Audio

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