Portrait of a common guillemot


Guillemots are the most common auk found in the British Isles. During spring these perky seabirds gather in massive and tightly packed breeding colonies, known as loomeries, on coastal cliffs and rock stacks. The females lay a single egg directly on a ledge. This might seem precarious, but their eggs are conical to prevent them rolling off the edge. When the chicks are three weeks old they have to take a dramatic plunge from their rocky shelf into the ocean below. Guillemots are also commonly called murres after the deep murmurings made by groups of nesting and fishing birds.

See a summer’s seabird ‘city’ spectacular.

Scientific name: Uria aalge

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Common guillemot ,
  • Common murre,
  • Thin-billed murre

Watch video clips from past programmes (5 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


Map showing the distribution of the Guillemot taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Guillemot can be found in a number of locations including: Arctic, Asia, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Guillemot distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


BBC News about Guillemot

Elsewhere on the BBC