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Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba


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Pigeon Guillemots, summer
credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has mainly blackish plumage with striking white patch on wing, part-dissected by black wedge. ADULT WINTER Has white underparts and mainly white neck with dark streaks down nape. Head is dark-streaked (especially through eye) and has dark-centered gray back feathers and black flight feathers; retains white wing patch. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but with more dark streaking on face, neck, and underparts.

Dimensions Length: 12-14" (30-36 cm)

Habitat Locally common year-round on rocky coasts. Range extends south in winter.

Observation Tips Easy to see on suitable coasts, sometimes in harbors.

Range Western Canada, California, Northwest, Alaska

Voice Utters high-pitched whistles at breeding colonies.

Similar Species Black Guillemot C. grylle (L 13-14 in) has white underwings and oval (not squarish), unbroken white wing patch. In west, found only on northern Alaska coast.

Discussion Plump-bodied seabird. Strikingly pied plumage is contrastingly different in summer and winter. Swims well, dives frequently, and flies on whirring wingbeats low over water. All birds have dark under wings, red legs, and red inside of mouth (obvious when bird is calling). Sexes are similar.