black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) Description

black guillemot

The black guillemot or tystie, scientific name Cepphus grylle is a medium-sized seabird of the alcid family, Alcidae, native all through northern Atlantic coasts and North American coasts. Its residents in a lot of its vary, however, massive populations from the excessive arctic migrate southwards in winter.

The black guillemot is a small auk that breeds amongst rocks on the base of cliffs, on decrease slopes, or on rocky islands; they are typically seen in small numbers. Black guillemots eat fish and crustaceans.

The black guillemot dives down from the floor of the water and swims to catch its prey. Carrying the catch of their bill, it’s doable to inform if a chook is left- or right-handed by the best way the fish level.

Many 1000’s black guillemots breed within the UK, scattered alongside the coast in pairs or small teams. Not shifting far between seasons, in winter, you might be more likely to spot them of their breeding locations.

The chook of the black guillemot could be seen in and around its breeding habitat of rocky shores, cliffs, and islands in single or small teams of pairs.

The black guillemot feeds primarily by diving in the direction of the seafloor feeding on fish, crustaceans, or different benthic invertebrates. They’re listed on the IUCN pink record as a species of least concern.

Easy methods to establish

In summer, the black guillemots are black throughout, with a big, white oval patch on every wing. In winter, it turns white, with black barring on it again, and black wings. It has vibrant pink legs and a pink gape.

A species of Auk, extremely marine and solely discovered on land within the breeding season. Smaller than Guillemot, and solely barely greater than Puffin.

Plump and heavy on the rear finish, fly with the top pointing up. Strikingly distinctive within the breeding season, with black guillemot, white higher wing patches, and pink ft. It might look all darkish, at a distance, within the breeding season.

Totally different within the winter when the chook is white beneath with white barring above, higher wing sample similar to the breeding season and helpful in figuring out the species at the moment of the year.


Nests on cliffs and rocky islands at scattered places across the coast of Scotland, the Isle of Man, and a handful of web sites in England and Wales. Winters on, or close to, its breeding grounds.

Each black guillemot sex has very comparable appearances with black plumage and a big white patch on the higher aspect of their wings in summer.

The bill can be black, being fairly lengthy and slender, whereas the ft are coral-red. In winter grownup underparts are white and the upperparts are a pale gray with the again and shoulders exhibiting barred gentle gray and white patterning.

The birds breed in solitary pairs or small teams throughout their breeding season beginning in late February and early Might.

Breeding pairs will usually lay 2-egg clutches and lift 2 chicks to fledge. Incubation usually lasts 28 to 32 days, as soon as hatched chicks obtain care from the dad and mom till they fledge aged 30 – 40 days.

As soon as fledged chicks are completely unbiased and by age three or 4 years they’ll start to re-join their natal colony.

The genus title Cepphus is from Historical Greek kepphos, a pale waterbird talked about by Greek authors together with Aristotle.

The species title grylle was the native dialect title for this chook in Gotland at the time of Linnaeus’s go there in 1741. The English phrase “guillemot” is from French guillemot in all probability derived from Guillaume, “William”.


The Black guillemot is a medium-sized chook with adults usually 30–32 cm (12–15 in) in size and with wingspans of 52 –58 cm (21–23 in).

The body weight can vary from 300-460g (0.7 – 1 lb). Adults have each summer time and winter plumage and there’s no sexual distinction on this that may be recognized within the discipline.

The English frequent title “Black Guillemot” references their strikingly black breeding summertime plumage which is completely black apart from a big white patch on the higher aspect of their wings.

In the course of the summer plumage, their legs, ft, and within the mouth are all a vibrant coral-red, and their beak is black.

black guillemot tystie Cepphus grylle

Adults lose their summer plumage in an early fall molt the place their higher plumage turns into barred with gentle gray and white, their head is a pale gray, their underparts white, and legs and ft a pale pink.

Black guillemot maintains its white wing patch, black beak, and pink inside its mouth. The decision in the breeding season is an excessive whistle. The pink gape can be outstanding then.

Juveniles and immatures can simply be recognized by the recognizing of the white wing patch with gray or brown feathers and is simple to see even at far distances within the discipline.


Displaying birds voice a collection of tremendous notes.

Food plan

black guillemot lives on marine fish and crustaceans


Nests of the black guillemot amongst boulders on the base of cliffs, additionally in rock crevices and in man-made constructions, similar to piers. Will nest singularly and in unfastened colonies.


Winters within the neighborhood of its breeding websites and could be seen inshore all year long.

Black guillemot: At a glance

Size: 30-32cm
Wingspan: 55cm
Weight: 420g
Common lifespan: 11 years
Conservation standing
Categorized within the UK as Amber below the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Pink Record for Birds (2015).

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