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Common Murre Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Uria aalge
  • Class

    Birds
  • Order

    Charadriiformes
  • Range

    A mostly marine species, the common murre can be found in the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to southern California and from Russia south to Japan. In the Atlantic Ocean, the bird's range extends from Canada to Maine, all the way across to Europe.

  • Habitat

    During breeding season, the common murre nests on rocky cliffs and islands. During the rest of the year, the bird lives at sea.

  • Niche

    The common murre feeds predominantly on fish, although squid, shrimp and mollusks also compose part of the diet. The bird catches its prey with underwater dives that can last up to a minute and reach up to 500 feet in depth (although 100 feet is a more common dive). The murre’s wings are adapted to “flying” underwater as well as above it, enabling it to chase prey beneath the surface.

  • Life History

    The common murre nests in large colonies on steep, rocky cliffs, where the birds lay their eggs on bare stone. Chicks leave the nest approximately a month after hatching, leaping from heights as high as 1,500 feet to the water below. The male accompanies them to the sea, where he provides care until the chicks have developed enough to fly, typically two weeks after leaving the nest.

  • Special Adaptations

    Murre eggs are pointed at one end, giving them a pear shape that ensures they roll in a circle instead of in a straight line when disturbed. This adaptation help prevent eggs from falling into the water. Murre eggs also show a broad range of colors, including speckled green, blue, brown and black. The differences in color help mated pairs identify which eggs are theirs.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 Get Map/Directions Call 312-742-2000

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