Common Murre

Uria aalge




Auks, Murres and Puffins (Alcidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, green, blue or brown with dark brown spots

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

28 - 33

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On cliff ledge.

Nest Material:

No nest materials.





Common Murre: Medium-sized seabird with brown-black upperparts and throat, white underparts, and long dark bill. Tail is short. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has white throat, white side of face, and faintly mottled flanks. Juvenile is smaller with darker mottled head. Stands upright like a small penguin.

Range and Habitat

Common Murre: This species is pelagic, breeding along the Arctic and subarctic coasts of Alaska, northeastern Canada, and southwestern Greenland south to central California and also in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Spends winters south to southern California and Massachusetts; also occurs in Eurasia. Preferred habitats include rocky coasts.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Murre: Lays one white, green, blue, or brown egg directly on a rock or rock shelf with no nesting materials added. Incubation ranges from 28 to 33 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Murre: Feeds on polar cod, capelin, sprat, sand eels, small Atlantic cod, and herring; also eats marine worms, amphipods, shrimp, and mollusks. Forages by diving from the surface; can remain underwater for up to one minute, reaching 100 feet deep and reportedly down to 550 feet. Uses strong wings to fly underwater.


Common Murre: Purrs softly; on breeding grounds also croaks, growls, and moans.

Similar Species

Common Murre: Thick-billed Murre is blacker above with a white point intruding into the black throat. In winter, Thick-billed has a darker face without dark line on the cheek.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X