Article by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~
Folk Name: guillemot,
Taxonomy: Animalia, Chordata, Aves, Charadriiformes, Alcidae,
Description: Known as the common murre or common guillemot, these birds are large auks, with a circumpolar distribution spending its time at sea except for breeding along rocky cliffs. “Guillemot” is a common name for these sea birds of the auk family. They fall under the genera Uria and Cepphus and the Uria are the Murres while the Cepphus are the Guillemot. They have fast direct flight but are not very agile, they maneuver well underwater diving to depths of 30-60 meters, though maximum depths recorded are around 180 meters. They breed in colonies with high density populations and are often in physical contact with their neighbors, they don’t make nests and lay single eggs they incubate on bare rock ledges which hatch around 30 days of incubation. The eggs are water-repellent and self-cleaning. The infant chick is born downy regulating its own body temperature around day 10, after 20 days they leave the nest for the sea although unable to fly yet upwards of 2 months after birth, they glide with fluttering wings often accompanying the male parent. The female parent stays at the nest upwards of 14 days after the chick leaves. The chick learns to dive as soon as they hit the water. Murres sometimes nest through the winter, though northern populations spend winters farther from their colonies. They often grow to 38-45 cm in length with a 61-73 cm wingspan. Its hard to tell the difference between males and females. The common species during breeding possess black on the head, back and wings, with white underparts. They have a thin dark pointed bill and small rounded dark tail. Face is usually white with a dark spur behind the eye, though some are dark brown rather than black. Legs and bill tend to be grey, though some have been recorded as yellow/gray. Feathers sometimes moult later in the year, but basic plumage occurs as late as may. The Uria together with the razorbill, dovekie, and extinct great Auk are the tribe Alcini with distinct white bellies, thick long bills larger than the Cepphus, with their dense reproductive colonies on the cliffs. The three living species of Cepphus create the Cepphini tribe and are smaller than the Uria with black bellies, rounder heads, and bright red feet.
Folklore/Spirituality: The name comes from the Greek ouriaa – a waterbird mentioned by Athenaeus and the Old Norse alka or “auk”.
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