Family Auks (Alcidae)

Least Concern

Common Murre (Uria aalge)


French: Guillemot marmette German: Trottellumme Spanish: Arao común
Other common names: Common Guillemot

Colymbus aalge


, 1763,



Sometimes hybridizes with U. lomvia, perhaps more frequently than hitherto believed#R. Race hyperborea poorly differentiated; possibly better synonymized with nominate. Birds of Faeroes sometimes separated subspecifically as spiloptera and populations of small islands in S Baltic as intermedia, but claimed differences probably reflect individual variation; both are synonymized with nominate. Form ibericus (from W Iberia) is included in albionis. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • U. a. aalge (Pontoppidan, 1763) – E North America, Greenland and Iceland through Faeroes and Scotland to S Norway and Baltic Sea.
  • U. a. albionis Witherby, 1923 – Ireland and S Britain through Brittany to W Iberia; Heligoland.
  • U. a. hyperborea Salomonsen, 1932 – Svalbard through N Norway and Murmansk to Novaya Zemlya.
  • U. a. inornata Salomonsen, 1932 – Japan (N Hokkaido) N through Sakhalin and Kuril Is to Kamchatka, whence E through Bering Sea, Aleutians and W Alaska to NW British Columbia.
  • U. a. californica (H. Bryant, 1861) – W USA (N Washington S to California).
  • Winters mainly in boreal waters, S in Atlantic to Georges Bank (sea off Outer Gulf of Maine) and W Europe, and in Pacific to S Japan and S California.

    Descriptive notes

    38–43 cm; mean 945–1044 g; wingspan 64–71 cm. Long, pointed, slender black bill with yellow mouth-lining, and dark brown iris; black to brownish head and... read more


    Generally silent at sea. At breeding colonies quite vocal. Calls include a rolling croak followed... read more


    Exclusively marine, occurring along sea coasts on rocky cliffs and offshore islands. Breeds mainly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fish throughout year, supplemented to small degree by invertebrates: crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes and fish eggs; daily intake... read more


    Spring arrival and start of laying variable, with relatively lengthy pre-laying period, longest in extreme S, shortest towards extreme N,... read more


    Winters offshore at sea, mostly within the breeding range and some birds remain close to colonies.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Population sizes and trends relatively well known. The global population, based on breeding colony surveys, is estimated to be of the... read more

    Recommended citation

    Nettleship, D.N., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Common Murre (Uria aalge). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).