Black guillemot

Cepphus grille

What do they look like?

In summer, black guillemots are completely black apart from a white patch visible on each wing. A medium sized auk, its bright red legs and distinctive patterning make it easily identifiable. In winter, much of the black plumage is lost, replaced by white underparts, and mottled grey across the back and head.

When can I see them in Scotland?

All year.

Where can I see them in Scotland?

The highest numbers of black guillemots are found in Orkney, Shetland and along the West coast of Scotland, although they can be spotted in small numbers elsewhere. Breeding and wintering around the same locations, black guillemots tend to be seen in pairs or small groups rather than large colonies.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Black guillemots are currently an ‘Amber’ listed species.

55 cm
23-40 days
31-51 days
11 years
Average lifespan

Black guillemot on a rock
© Lorne Gill