|Conservation status||Far less numerous than the murres; world population in 1970s estimated at a little over 200,000. Distribution is mostly near shore, so is vulnerable to oil spills and other pollution. Thought to have declined in some areas recently, perhaps reflecting increasing pollution of North Atlantic.|
|Family||Auks, Murres, Puffins|
|Habitat||Open ocean; nests on sea cliffs. Tends to forage in cool waters less than 200' deep, so often concentrates over offshore shoals or ledges; sometimes closer to shore than other large auks. Nests on islands or mainland on cliffs or rocky shorelines.|
Forages while swimming underwater. Catches most food 5-20' below surface, rarely may dive to 30'. May catch several fish during one dive. Sometimes steals fish from puffins or other auks.
1, perhaps rarely 2. Tan or greenish to white, variably marked with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, 32-39 days. Young: Both parents bring fish in bills to feed nestling. Young leaves nest 14-25 days after hatching, before able to fly. Late in evening, young follows adult to cliff edge and then flutters down to water, and adult and young swim away.
Both parents bring fish in bills to feed nestling. Young leaves nest 14-25 days after hatching, before able to fly. Late in evening, young follows adult to cliff edge and then flutters down to water, and adult and young swim away.
Mostly fish. Feeds mainly on small fish, especially sand lance, also herring, sprat, capelin, stickleback, cod. Also eats crustaceans and marine worms.
Usually first breeds at age of 4-5 years. Nests in colonies. May mate for life. Pair formation may take place within flocks on water or on common ground near colony. In display, male raises head, pointing bill up while giving growling call, then bows deeply; female sometimes does same. Members of pair also touch bills, preen each other's feathers. Nest site is in crevice in cliff, under boulders, on ledge, or in abandoned burrow of other species. Sometimes no nest built, usually small collection of pebbles, grass.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Winters well offshore, mainly from Grand Banks of Newfoundland to southern New England, in small numbers south to Virginia. Very rare south to Florida. Winter distribution varies, depending on food supply and weather. European birds may winter farther south, reaching northwest Africa.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsLow croaks and growls.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Razorbill
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Climate threats facing the Razorbill
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