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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan

Thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia)

Thick-billed murre
© Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995

Thick-billed murres are one of the most abundant seabirds in the world. In Canada, they are found primarily in the eastern Arctic where they nest in dense cliff-face colonies, but they occur as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Young murres leave the colony before they can fly and so must launch themselves from cliffs up to 300 m high, following their parents and gliding on stubby wings to the sea below. The adults and flightless young then swim to the wintering areas off Newfoundland and West Greenland, a distance of over 2000 km for many of the birds in the Arctic colonies.

Common murres (Uria aalge) are very similar in appearance to thick-billed murres, but breed further south, along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Last Updated: 2013-05-10 To the top
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