Pigeon Guillemot is a auk speices found on the Pacific Coast of much of
North America. At first glance during the summer breeding season, they
appear to be an elegant mix of black and white, but a better view provides a
glimpse of strikingly bright red legs, and a bright red lining inside the
mouth during the breeding season. In winter, the plumage is much more
muted, a mottled mix of blacks, whites, and grays. Mated pairs typically
stay together for multiple years, and also will use the same nest sites year
Habitat: During the summer breeding season, they
are found on rocky coastlines, cliffs, or rocky islands. At other
seasons, they are at sea, but are typically relatively close to shore or the
edge of pack ice in winter.
Diet: Feeds on a variety of marine life.
Diet may include small fish, mollusks, marine worms, small crustaceans,
jellyfish, small starfish, and other small ocean creatures.
Behavior: Forages by swimming on the water's
surface and then diving and swimming under waer in search of prey.
They can dive to depths of up to 150 feet while foraging.
Nesting: The nest of a Pigeon Guillemot is either
in a crack amongst large rocks, or in a burrow. They will either use
and modify an existing burrow built by another animal, or wiill dig their
own. The nest itself is a simple scrape with gathered pebbles and
seashells. Both the parents incubate the eggs, and both parents feed
and tend to the young upon hatching.
Song: On their breeding grounds, they have a very
high-pitched whistling, as well as a staccato series of notes that rise in
pitch and accelerate before slowing towards the end.
Migration: Birds at the far northern edge of their
range on the west coast of Alaska do move southward to the edge of the
winter's pack ice. However, most birds do appear to be permanent
Black Guillemot. The two
species are very similar in appearance. Note in the photo above, the
Pigeon Guillemot shows a black bar crossing/interrupting the white wing
patch on breeding birds. On the Black Guillemot, the white wing patch
is much "cleaner", without the dark feathers crossing it at the bottom.
Photo Information: Photo taken on June 8th, 2009 -
Haystack Rock, at Cannon Beach, Oregon - Terry Sohl