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Created on Day 5

on March 9, 2012

The common murre dives after its food, often to depths of 100 ft (30 m).


Common Murre

The common murre dives after its food, often to depths of 100 ft (30 m). However, it has been recorded reaching a depth of 550 ft (168 m). Its strong wings propel it through the water and enable it to catch its prey. The common murre does not build a nest. The female lays a single egg on a bare rock ledge, and both parents take turns incubating it. The egg is so pointed on one end that it rolls in a circle if it is pushed. That’s a great design to keep the egg from rolling off the rocky ledge.


  • The common murre is sometimes confused with penguins. It resembles the penguin somewhat in shading with a white underbelly and dark head, neck, back, wings, and tail, and also in its upward posture.

Fun Facts

  • The common murre spends the majority of its life at sea, only coming ashore to breed.
  • The eggs of the common murre vary in color, from white to light green, blue, or brown. The coloring may help the parents recognize their eggs.
  • Some of the sounds this bird makes include purrs, growls, and croaks.
  • The lining of the common murre’s mouth is yellow.
  • Its winter distribution is largely determined by the concentration of schooling fish, its prey.

CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Charadriiformes (shorebirds and relatives)
FAMILY: Alcidae (auks)

Size: 15–17 in (38–43 cm); wingspan between 25–28 in (64–71 cm)
Diet: Mainly fish; but also shrimp, mollusks, and squid
Habitat: Coasts of western Alaska to central California; coasts of Labrador to Nova Scotia; during the winter, mostly offshore