|Conservation status||Still abundant, but populations are known to have declined in many areas. Vulnerable to effects of pollution; a frequent victim of oil spills.|
|Family||Auks, Murres, Puffins|
|Habitat||Ocean, large bays; colonies on sea cliffs. Favors cool ocean waters, both offshore and rather near coast, generally over continental shelf. Unlike Thick-billed Murre, tends to avoid areas of pack ice. Nests on coasts and islands, on ledges of cliffs and on flat bare rock atop sea stacks.|
Forages while swimming underwater. May dive to more than 150' below surface when foraging.
One. Very variable, usually whitish, tan, blue, or green, with markings of brown, reddish, black. Incubation is by both sexes, 28-37 days. Young: Fed by both parents. Young leaves nest at 15-25 days, before able to fly; flutters down to water, is cared for and fed by parents at sea for several more weeks. Young is probably capable of flight at about 50-70 days.
Fed by both parents. Young leaves nest at 15-25 days, before able to fly; flutters down to water, is cared for and fed by parents at sea for several more weeks. Young is probably capable of flight at about 50-70 days.
Mostly fish. Feeds on wide variety of fish, including herring, cod, capelin, sand lance, haddock, many others. Also eats various crustaceans, marine worms, squid.
First breeds at age of 4-5 years. Nests in colonies. Displays by members of pair include pointing bill skyward, bowing deeply, clashing open bills together, preening each other's feathers. One (usually female) may return to nest site from sea with fish, present it ceremonially to mate. Nest site is on cliff ledge or on flat stony surface near water. Nests may be very close together, incubating birds well within touching distance. No nest built, egg laid on bare rock.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident in many areas. Must leave vicinity of northern colonies in western Alaska in winter, when waters freeze solid. Some southward movement off both coasts, birds reaching New England waters and southern California in winter.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsPurring or murmuring, hence the name "murre." Also a guttural croak and higher-pitched bleat.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Common Murre
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Common Murre
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.