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Guillemot

size:

length: 38-45 centimeters
wingspan: 64-73 centimeters

weight:

690 grams

color:

black/brown and white

age:

maximum 31 years

food:

mostly fish, sometimes worms and small crustaceans

movement:

flying and swimming, doesn't walk well

enemies:

oil spills at sea

reproduction:

maturity: age 5
number of eggs per nest: 1

  • Dut: Zeekoet
  • Eng: Guillemot
  • Fren: Guillemot de Troil
  • Ger: Trottellumme
  • Ital: Uria
  • Dan: Lomvie
  • Nor: Lomvi
  • Frisian: Skoet
  • Lat: Uria aalge
Guillemot, Ecomare

Guillemot

Guillemots are true seabirds. They only come on land to breed. They look for food from the water by sticking their head underwater and search for a tasty fish, such as sprat and lesser sandeel. Guillemots are excellent divers, easily swimming down to 180 meters. Under water, they swim just like penguins, using their wings. That is why their feathers and wings are very short and strong.

  • Oil pollution
    Guillemot with oil, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Because guillemots spend most of their lives at sea and dive for their food, they are very sensitive to oil pollution. Every winter, large numbers of dead guillemot wash ashore on the Dutch coast. Only a small number reach the beach alive. Around half of them can be cleansed and rehabilitated in special bird sanctuaries. The other half is too sick and dies. In 2009, guillemots with an unknown sticky material on their feathers washed ashore. The feathers and the wings were stuck together so badly that the birds could no longer move and died. It is still unknown what the material was, but rinsing remnants from a chemical tanker were probably responsible. The loading tanks must be rinsed clean before a new load can be transported. This occurs often in open sea, with serious consequences for seabirds.

  • Colorful eggs
    Guillemots, Foto Fitis, www.fotofitis.nl

    Guillemots breed in large colonies on cliff coasts. Their nests are so close together, there can be up to 20 pairs occupying one square meter during peak season! They do not make a nest: the single egg is laid on a narrow rock ledge. The egg is shaped in such a way that it circles around its top and doesn't roll off the cliff. Every egg has a different color and pattern, so the parents are able to recognize their own egg.

  • Distribution and habitat

    Guillemots nest on islands in the Atlantic Ocean and rocky coasts on the mainland of the western coast of England, Iceland and Norway. In the winter, they also swim to the southern North Sea to forage for food.

  • Spotted in the North Sea
    Guillemots, Marijke de Boer

    In the autumn and winter, 2% (more than 130,000) of the total guillemot population is found in the Dutch North Sea. One of their favorite place is the Frisian Front, north of the Wadden Islands, where there is lots of food to be found. Because the Frisian Front is a very significant area for guillemots, it has been designated as a protected nature area in the North Sea.