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Common murres        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 abundant is the common murre.   In summer, the species can be distinguished from the closely-related thick-billed murre by its ash-gray back, slightly thinner bill, and lack of a white mark on 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.   They are also found off of California, where the winter-plumaged birds and adult with chick were photographed in Monterey Bay.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II or R7; 500 mm IS lens or 400 mm DO Mk II lens plus 1.4X or 2X converter, fill-in flash for sitting bird (2005, 2022)