Family Auks (Alcidae)

Least Concern

Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia)


French: Guillemot de Brünnich German: Dickschnabellumme Spanish: Arao de Brünnich
Other common names: Thick-billed Guillemot, Brünnich's Guillemot

Alca Lomvia


, 1758,



Sometimes hybridizes with U. aalge, perhaps more frequently than hitherto believed#R. Considerable geographical variation through circumpolar range; biometric variation in general is quasi-clinal, but high degree of colour variation more difficult to interpret. Races eleonorae and heckeri very similar to arra, and possibly better merged into it; proposed race arroides considered inseparable from nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • U. l. lomvia (Linnaeus, 1758) – NE Canada (S to Gulf of St Lawrence) and Greenland E to Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya.
  • U. l. eleonorae Portenko, 1937 – E Taymyr Peninsula E to New Siberian Is.
  • U. l. heckeri Portenko, 1944 – Wrangel I, Herald I and N Chukotskiy Peninsula.
  • U. l. arra (Pallas, 1811) – N Pacific from NW & SE Alaska, and Aleutians, S to Sakhalin.
  • Winters offshore and along sea coasts mainly in low Arctic waters, but some in N part of boreal zone S to Gulf of Maine, North Sea, Sea of Japan and Gulf of Alaska.

    Descriptive notes

    39–46 cm; mean 810–1080 g; wingspan 65–73 cm. Largest extant alcid; blackish head and upperparts, white underparts; white-tipped secondaries; legs and feet... read more


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


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

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly fish, squid and crustaceans throughout year, supplemented by polychaetes and molluscs; invertebrates more significant than for ... read more


    Spring arrival and start of laying variable, usually related to sea temperatures, with laying latest where temperatures lowest; in mixed... read more


    Winters mostly offshore at sea, mainly in low Arctic waters, but some winter in the north of the... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total breeding population estimated at c. 11,000,000 pairs, with c. 6,500,000 (4,900,000–7,500,000) in N Atlantic and 4,500,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Nettleship, D.N., Christie, D.A., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia). 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 22 August 2019).