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Birds by name
Conservation status: Red
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 Red List species.
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.
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.
Fish, especially sandeels
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Hans Petter Kristoffersen, Xeno-canto