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Brunnich's Guillemot or Thick-billed Murre

Brunnich's Guillemot

The Brünnich's Guillemot (Uria lomvia) is a sea bird, which belongs to auk family Alcidae. These birds are also known with the name Thick-billed Murre. However, its North Pacific subspecies Uria lomvia arra, which is very black in color is called as Pallas' Murre. The name Brünnich is given to the bird after the zoologist Morten Thrane Brünnich. Brunnich's Guillemots are found on the islands and coasts of High Arctic of Asia, Europe and North America.

The size of Brunnich's Guillemot ranges in length from 40 to 44 cm, while it has a wingspan of 64 to 75 cm. These birds have black color above and white below. They have long and pointed bills and a small rounded black tail. During winters their lower face becomes white. Brunnich's Guillemots is almost silent at the sea, but makes harsh cackling calls while at colony.

The size Brunnich's Guillemot is very much similar to its conspecific Common Guillemot. Brunnich's Guillemot has thick and short bill relative to the Common Guillemot. The Pacific species of the bird is larger than the Atlantic species, especially considering the bills size. After the extinction of the Great Auk, guillemots are considered as the largest members of the Alcidae.

Also they have white stripe on their bill, which is missing in the common murre. On other hand the common murres have the 'bridled morph' which is missing in the brunnich's guillemot. The brunnich's guillemot have less white on their bill during winters. The head pattern of both the species is good way to distinguish them from each other.

Brunnich's Guillemot is rarely found in European countries. About 30 birds were observed in Britain, out of which half were tideline corpses. Out of the remaining only three were seen long enough. They have also been recorded once in Ireland and Netherlands. Brunnich's Guillemot breeds on coastal cliffs. During breeding season they lay one egg directly on a cliff ledge. These birds move towards south during winters only to stay away from the icy water.

Brunnich's murres have short wings, which they beat fast during flight. They have strong and direct flight. Brunnich's murres can swim underwater with the help of their wings. They are good divers, can dive for the depth of 150m. They can dive up to four minutes. But they usually dive for shallow depths or the longest for 21-40 m. Thick-billed Murre

The adult birds feed on invertebrates and a few fish. However the chicks live on eating squid, crustaceans, small fish and small invertebrates. The adults carry the one fish at a time for their chicks. These birds generally travel several kilometers from their nest to find the favorite feeding grounds. Traveling 100 km from the nest to find the fishing area is common in these birds.

The great thing about these birds is that they have unique mechanism mechanism to stay away from diving sickness and lung collapse when surfacing. The hunting of birds has become the important treat for the species in Greenland. The over fishing is also has become problem for the Common Murres, whereas Brünnich's murres utilizes other food alternatives to live upon. Murres are much sensitive to the oil contamination. The oil pollution also has become a threat for them.