Common Murre

The common murre dives after its food, often to depths of 100 ft (30 m). However, it has been recorded reaching a depth of 550 ft (168 m). Its strong wings propel it through the water and enable it to catch its prey. The common murre does not build a nest. The female lays a single egg on a bare rock ledge, and both parents take turns incubating it. The egg is so pointed on one end that it rolls in a circle if it is pushed. That’s a great design to keep the egg from rolling off the rocky ledge.


  • The common murre is sometimes confused with penguins. It resembles the penguin somewhat in shading with a white underbelly and dark head, neck, back, wings, and tail, and also in its upward posture.

Fun Facts

  • The common murre spends the majority of its life at sea, only coming ashore to breed.
  • The eggs of the common murre vary in color, from white to light green, blue, or brown. The coloring may help the parents recognize their eggs.
  • Some of the sounds this bird makes include purrs, growls, and croaks.
  • The lining of the common murre’s mouth is yellow.
  • Its winter distribution is largely determined by the concentration of schooling fish, its prey.

CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Charadriiformes (shorebirds and relatives)
FAMILY: Alcidae (auks)

Size: 15–17 in (38–43 cm); wingspan between 25–28 in (64–71 cm)
Diet: Mainly fish; but also shrimp, mollusks, and squid
Habitat: Coasts of western Alaska to central California; coasts of Labrador to Nova Scotia; during the winter, mostly offshore