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Thick-billed murre        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Islands in the Bering Sea support huge populations of seabirds (although many are in serious decline, possibly due to overfishing).   One of the most common is the thick-billed murre, also called Brunnich's guillemot in Europe.   The species can be distinguished from the closely-related common murre by its blacker back, slightly thicker bill, and (usually) by the white line over the upper 'lip'.   Both species breed on cliff ledges and lay single large eggs with sharply pointed ends that presumably roll in tight circles to help prevent them from falling off.   Young murres often jump off their nest ledges -- sometimes hundreds of feet high -- and flutter or glide into the sea long before they can sustain powered flight.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II, 500 mm IS lens plus 1.4X or 2X converter, fill-in flash for sitting birds (2005)