Species profile

Name: the razorbill or lesser auk (Alca torda) is a species of seabird in the genus Alca. It is the closest living relative of the extinct great auk (Pinguinis impennis).

Appearance: razorbills are mostly black with white chests. They can be distinguished from the closely related guillemot by their broader, thicker beaks and the thin white lines on their faces.

Size: they typically weigh between 0.5 to 0.9 kg and have wingspans around 40 cm.

Diet: their diets are similar to those of guillemots generally being made up of schooling fish such as capelin, sand lance, cod, sprats, and herring.

Did you know: razorbills are monogamous – choosing one partner and staying with them for their whole lives. They spend most of their lives at sea, only coming ashore to breed on rocky cliffs. Courtship displays include touching bills and following one another in elaborate flights. Once egg laying begins, the males constantly guard their mates by knocking away other birds with their beaks.

Location: they can be found across the North Atlantic – breeding on islands, rocky shores, and cliffs. Almost half of all breeding pairs of razorbills can be found in Iceland.

Where to see razorbills

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see razorbills in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
South Stack
very high
very good

Photo credit: Kevsphotos under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay

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