Seabird ringers will tell you why this bird got its name! In fact the bill is much deeper than that of the Guillemot and has a wicked hook as well as white lines across it (from top to bottom). In the breeding season there is a narrow stripe along the top of the bill to the eye. Head, neck, back, wing and tail are very dark brown - almost sooty black - except for the white tips to the greater coverts. The underparts are white.
This is a bird that lays pyriform eggs, so they spin around their narrow end and do not fall off the ledges. However the nest site is likely to be concealed under a rock or in some sort of cavity and not (unlike the Guillemot) be found on an open ledge. Breeding Razorbills are found at cliffs from the Baltic to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and from France to Iceland and Bear Island. The birds feed at sea on fish mostly caught by surface diving. In winter they range far further to the South and many regularly winter in the Mediterranean. About 180,000 birds were estimated for the British and Irish population.
A big Atlantic auk with a broad bill.
Length 360 mm Closed wing 200 mm Weight 715 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead