BIRDS OF ICELAND : Cepphus grylle, black guillemot

Cepphus grylle; the black guillemot is by comparison to other auks more a coastal bird than a sea bird. It is the only auk in the region with black "bellies". In fact in summer it is all black with a large white spot on the wings. The winter plumage is whiter: a white belly and also greyish neck and back (unlike other auks in winter who maintain a blackish back, neck and crown). Like puffins they have red legs but unlike puffins they sit on their lower legs while at rest. Quite characteristic is the red inside of the mouth which is seen often when the beaks are opened in behavioral displays. Breeding happens in (very) loosely organized colonies. Two(!) eggs are laid in rock holes and other protected spots. They are to be found from the Kola district to Ireland including coastal regions of the Baltic. Some individuals, mainly immatures, disperse in winter to other regions but many stay near their breeding grounds during winter.

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A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise


 two black guillemots
 four black guillemots, one showing red color of the beak's inside
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 two black guillemots
  inside of beaks: red colored
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