What the heck is a "guillemot"?
Guillemot \'gil-e-,mät\ A small black duck-like bird with white
wing patches and red feet. They are a member of the Alcidæ family. Other
Alcids include Puffins, Murre, and Auks. Alcids are the North Atlantic's answer
to the penguin. The guillemot is a strong diver, using its wings to fly through
the water. There range spans the coasts of the north Atlantic. Nesting in
the US in Maine. Although less common world-wide than the puffin, guillemot
are much more prevalent in Maine. I see guillemot every time I go out on the
water in Maine, where I only see puffins in certain places.
When paddling toward a guillemot swimming on the surface, it will quickly duck it's head into the water, looking to make sure it is safe to dive. It will dive with a quick beat of it's wings to help it under. If you are close enough you will see the white wing patches flash as it flies through the water. If the bird chooses to fly instead of dive, it will run on the surface of the water until it can lift off. Then, with its red legs trailing out back it will typically circle around you at a distance of 100 ft for a couple revolutions. If it decides you are no threat, it will land again. Otherwise, it will fly until it reaches a safe distance before landing
The black plumage is a summer breeding coloring. Their off-season and immature coloring is a light mottled grey. In any case, keep an eye out for guillemots, they are fun to watch.
Other Black Guillemot pages: