Common murre

The penguins that can fly

Andreas Trepte

The common murre, often likened to a flying penguin due to its sleek black-and-white appearance, possesses remarkable agility both in the air and underwater. Despite its seemingly awkward physique, this seabird is adept at swift and powerful flight, allowing it to traverse vast distances over the open ocean with ease. Its streamlined body and strong wings enable it to soar effortlessly above the waves, a sight often observed near offshore islands and along rocky sea cliffs.

While the common murre’s flight prowess is impressive, it is perhaps most remarkable for its remarkable underwater hunting abilities. With unparalleled dexterity and precision, the common murre dives beneath the waves in pursuit of its prey, demonstrating incredible agility and maneuverability as it navigates the underwater realm in search of sustenance.

Nesting primarily on coastal cliffs and occasionally on flat islands, the common murre selects precarious ledges and crevices as nesting sites, providing protection from predators and access to prime fishing grounds. During the breeding season, these colonies buzz with activity as mated pairs engage in courtship displays, territorial disputes, and the vital task of rearing their young.

Throughout the year, the common murre’s diet consists primarily of fish, with preferred prey species varying depending on factors such as location and seasonal availability. In addition to fish, the common murre also consumes a variety of invertebrates, including crabs, mollusks, sea worms, and fish eggs, supplementing its diet with these protein-rich resources as needed.

The abundance of food sources plays a crucial role in determining the common murre’s distribution and behavior, with large congregations of birds often found in areas where prey is plentiful. These feeding aggregations serve as vital hubs of activity, attracting numerous individuals and facilitating social interactions among members of the species.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Algeria
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Belgium
2018
Non-Breeding
Bulgaria
2018
Vagrant
Canada
2018
Cape Verde
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Czechia
2018
Vagrant
Denmark
2018
Estonia
2018
Non-Breeding
Faroe Islands
2018
Finland
2018
France
2018
Gambia
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Germany
2018
Gibraltar
2018
Non-Breeding
Greenland
2018
Iceland
2018
Ireland
2018
Italy
2018
Japan
2018
Korea
2018
Latvia
2018
Non-Breeding
Lithuania
2018
Non-Breeding
Malta
2018
Vagrant
Mauritania
2018
Vagrant
Mexico
2018
Monaco
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Morocco
2018
Vagrant
Netherlands
2018
Non-Breeding
North Korea
2018
Breeding
Norway
2018
Poland
2018
Non-Breeding
Portugal
2018
Romania
2018
Vagrant
Russia
2018
Breeding
Saint Pierre
2018
Senegal
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Spain
2018
Svalbard
2018
Breeding
Sweden
2018
Switzerland
2018
Vagrant
Tunisia
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
United Kingdom
2018
United States
2018
Breeding

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No