• Common Murre

    Common NameCommon Murre
    Scientific NameUria aalge
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation11/06/2017
    Number Observed9
    Reporting Observer's NameEnid Weinheimer
    Mailing Address1431 Monkton Road
    N. Ferrisburg, VT 05473
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed11/07/2017
    Latitude of Observation0
    Longitude of Observation0
    Place NameCharlotte Town Beach
    Time of Day10:00 AM
    Length of Time Observedseven minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)800
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)500
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Intermittent rain. Some fog, but clear to birds. Windy. Recent Nor'easter.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Bausch and Lomb 20-60X80 Elite Spotting Scope 620080

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Growing up birding in Massachusetts, Common Murres were fairly regular in winter, especially off the outside of Cape Cod. I learned at a young age to spot them, and to differentiate between them and Thick-billed Murres. I have long experience with this species.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Out on open water of Lake Champlain. Closer to me were a few Horned Grebes, , Mallards, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loons, and Ring-billed Gulls.

    Behaviors Observed

    Murres stayed on the surface of the water the whole time I observed them. Two in front were preening, and so lifted their bodies slightly from the water. They were moving quickly from north to south. None dove or flew.

    Description of Vocalizations


    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    First observed while scanning with telescope on low power. I recognized them as Alcids, based on the way they sat in the water, their size and shape, and zoomed in to get a better look. I noted the amount of white on face and neck, that they were white beneath, and had narrow, slightly upward-pointing bills. They had dark backs, with a slash of white toward the rump. I could see a black line from behind the eye toward their lower necks.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Medium sized. Much smaller than the Common Loons, larger than the Horned Grebes.


    Black on crown, and through eye. White cheeks and throat. Nape black.

    Feet & Bill

    Occasionally saw preening individuals lift feet. Set far back on body. Appeared to be black, relatively large, and webbed.
    Bill black. Held slightly tipped up from the water. Relatively long and narrow.

    Upper Back

    Upper back black. No markings.

    Lower Back & Rump

    Lower back black. On some individuals could see thin white line diagonal to the water.


    Wings black above, and slightly squat. Preening birds occasionally lifted themselves from the water, showing wings beneath. Grayish beneath.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    Breast, belly, flanks, and under tail coverts all white.


    Tail very short, black. Tipped slightly up while swimming.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Thick-billed Murre are the most similar species, but they do not have the line from the eye leading back to the neck.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

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