Black Guillemots may be the most abundant alcid in Maine waters, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve any less attention than their charismatic cousin the Atlantic Puffin! They are one of the few seabirds on the Maine coast year round. Unlike other alcids most Black Guillemots are sedentary, and if they do migrate it is only short distances from their breeding colonies. Black Guillemots feed in mid to shallow waters, and often loaf on intertidal rocks or on the surface in between foraging dives. These habits make them one of the more visible alcids from the mainland. Breeding plumage is solid black with white wing patches. This makes the species easy to identify at a distance, but up close you will notice the bright red legs and gape, which give these charming birds a splash of color.
I wish we could get a good video of Guillemot behavior, if we watch them for too long we just break up laughing. On land their movements are a combination of awkward waddles and hops. Black Guillemots are wing propelled swimmers and require strong short wings to literally fly under the water while foraging. High wing loading (mass vs. wing surface area) makes slowing down in aerial flight very difficult. As a result these birds seem to crash land into just about anything to stop themselves.
Our next Guillemot check is coming right up so we hope to have some pictures of Guillemot chicks up for you soon!
*The incredible photography for this post was taken by Brette Soucie, Metinic Supervisor 2010. Her patience and artistic eye are responsible for our ability to share such beautiful images with you. Thank you Brette! We hope you are taking tons of pictures on your recent adventures!
Always appreciative –The Metinic crew