Plate 430

Slender-billed Guillemot

I have received not less than four specimens of this small Guillemot from Mr. TOWNSEND, who procured them on the north-west coast of America, not very far from the mouth of the Columbia river. The changes of colour in birds of this genus are well known to be considerable; and I have represented two individuals, supposing one to be an adult, and the other a young bird in its first plumage, 

SLENDER-BILLED GUILLEMOT, Uria Townsendii, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v, p. 251. 

Adult, 10; wing 5 2/12. Young, in autumn, 9 3/4; wing 5 1/12. 

Abundant on the north-west coast of America, not far from the Columbia river. 


Bill shorter than the head, straight, slender, much compressed, acute. Upper mandible with the dorsal line convex and declinate, the ridge very narrow, the sides erect and convex toward the end, the edges sharp and inflected, with a distinct notch near the tip, which is rather acute and caniculate beneath. Nostrils medial, narrow near the margin, in the fore parts of the long nasal sinus, which is feathered. Lower mandible with the angle long and very narrow, the dorsal line ascending and straight, the sides nearly erect, but convex, the edges sharp and inflected, the tip very acute. 

Head of moderate size, oblong; neck short; body full, depressed; wings small. Feet placed far behind, very short and slender; tarsus very short, reticulate; toes slender, with numerous short scutella; the first wanting; the third or middle toe longest, the inner much shorter than the outer; claws small, slightly arched, compressed, rather acute. 

Plumage very soft, close, blended, rather glossy; feathers of the head very short, of the back oblong, of the lower parts ovate. Wings small, very narrow, convex, falcate; first quill longest, second a twelfth of an inch shorter, the rest rapidly diminishing; secondaries incurved, obliquely rounded. Tail extremely short, narrow, rounded, of twelve weak, rounded feathers. 

Bill black. Feet yellow; claws black. The upper parts are brownish-black, the feathers of the back terminally margined with light grey; the lower parts, cheeks, a transverse band on the nape, both eyelids, and a longitudinal band on each side, formed by some of the scapulars, white, some dusky streaks on the hind part of the sides, and the lower wing-covert greyish-brown, the larger tipped with dull white. 

Length to end of tail 10 inches; bill along the ridge (8 1/2)/12, along the edge of lower mandible 1 4/12; wing from flexure 5 2/12; tail 1 4/12; tarsus 8/12; middle toe 1 1/12, its claw (2 1/2)/12. 

Young in autumn. 

Bill and feet as in the adult. The upper parts are brownish-black, the feathers terminally margined with brown; the occipital band is merely indicated by some lighter feathers, and the scapular band is brownish or chestnut-red. The lower parts have a curious mottled appearance, the feathers being brownish-grey at the end, but in the rest of their extent white, that colour appearing more or less on all parts, and shewing a patch on the hind part of the sides. 

Length to end of tail 9 3/4 inches; bill along the ridge (7 1/2)/12, along the edge of lower mandible 1 3/12; wing from flexure 5 1/12; tail 1 2/12; tarsus (7 1/2)/12; middle toe 11/12, its claw (2 3/4)/12. 

Two other individuals, apparently more advanced, or perhaps adults in winter, have the upper parts brownish-black; the lower white but finely mottled, a small portion of the extremity of each feather being greyish-dusky. The white bands on the hind neck and scapulars are formed, and the lower surface of the wing is brownish-grey. 

For more on this species, see its entry in the Birds of North America Field Guide.