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Haystack Rock

 

GuillemotsCepphus columba

Length: 13-14 inches
Wingspan: 20 inches
Weight: 1.1 lb (490g)

 
Photo Courtesy of Marcus G. Martin

Named for their pigeon-like size and color, pigeon guillemots are in the same family as puffins. The orange-red color of their legs and feet, scarlet-red mouth lining, and white patches are in stark contrast to the dark gray breeding plumage.

These birds are know for their unique nesting sites - under logs, in rock crevices, in holes, under old bridges and on abandoned docks. Like the Tufted Puffin, Pigeon Guillemots return to Haystack Rock each spring but, unlike Puffins, they usually nest in rock crevices 10-40 feet above the water, making them the one of the most vulnerable of the Rock's nesting seabirds. Between 15 and 25 Guillemots nest at Haystack Rock.

Nesting pairs incubate one or two greenish or bluish-white eggs for about 30 days. The pair shares feeding duties once the chicks hatch. Fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates make up the adult diet; chicks are primarily fed fish. Like Puffins, Guillemots use their wings to "fly" under water to fish for their dinner. They dive to depths of 150 feet and have been known to stay underwater for over one minute.

When you're exploring around Haystack Rock be sure to listen for the Pigeon Guillemot's high-pitched calls of warning and greeting: extremely high pitched, thin, squeaky, or piping whistles.

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