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length: 37-39 centimeters
wingspan: 63-67 centimeters


710 grams


black and white, with a white stripe across the bill


maximum 41 years


mostly fish


oil spills at sea


maturity: age 4
number of eggs per nest: 1

  • Dut: Alk
  • Eng: Razorbill
  • Fren: Petit Pingouin
  • Ger: Tordalk
  • Ital: Gazzamarina
  • Dan: Alk
  • Nor: Alke
  • Fries: Alk
  • Lat: Alca torda
Razorbill, Foto Fitis,


Razorbills are expert swimmers and divers. Their short wings work just as well above water as under water. Diving down to 120 meter in search of lesser sandeel or other fish is no problem. In the air, they are true acrobats. They can flap their wings so quickly that you can't even follow it with the naked eye. This rapid wing movement allows them to fly low over the water surface and navigate between the waves.

  • Bungy jumpers
    Razorbills on breeding rocks, Foto Fitis,

    Just like guillemots, the young razorbills jump into the sea before they can fly. The egg is bred on the edge of overhanging rocks, so the young do not fall onto other rocks when they jump into the unknown.

  • Distribution of razorbills in the North Sea region
    Distribution of the razorbill, Ecomare
    Source: Important bird areas for seabirds in the North Sea.

    Razorbills breed mostly on the Scottish coasts and on the Orkney and Shetland Islands, a total of 73,000 razorbill pairs. After breeding season, the razorbills migrate to the south as far as the southern North Sea. A few specimen travel further, down to the coast of Morocco and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea.

    Around 22,000 razorbills are found in the Dutch North Sea in the winter. This is 1% of the total razorbill population. Most of the overwintering razorbills come from the British coast, but there are also birds from Iceland.

Razorbills at Ecomare