Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia)
Thick-billed Murre

Thick-billed Murre

Uria lomvia

The Thick-billed Murre, or Brünnich's Guillemot, is a robust member of the auk family, Alcidae. It is the largest extant species within its family since the extinction of the great auk. The bird is characterized by its black upperparts and white underparts, with a distinctive long and pointed bill. The Pacific subspecies, known as Pallas' Murre, is notably larger, particularly in bill size.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Thick-billed Murre, look for the black head, neck, back, and wings contrasted with white underparts. The bill is long, pointed, and during the breeding season, it features a white gape stripe. The tail is small and rounded. In winter, the face becomes whiter. Their calls are a series of harsh cackles at breeding colonies. In flight, they appear shorter than the similar Common Murre due to their thicker bill and darker plumage.


These birds are pelagic, spending their lives in sub-polar and polar seas, preferring waters below 8°C. They come ashore only to breed, forming dense colonies on cliff faces.


The Thick-billed Murre is found across the Northern Hemisphere's polar and sub-polar regions, with four subspecies distributed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans of North America and the Russian Arctic.


Murres exhibit strong and direct flight with rapid wingbeats, necessitated by their short wings. They are adept divers, capable of reaching depths up to 150 meters and can dive for several minutes. Their foraging often involves long trips from their nesting sites.

Song & Calls

At breeding colonies, the Thick-billed Murre is vocal with a variety of harsh cackling calls. However, it remains silent when at sea.


Breeding occurs on narrow cliff ledges, where they lay a single egg directly on the rock. Both parents incubate and care for the chick. The young leave the nest by jumping into the sea, guided by a parent, and remain with the male for approximately eight weeks at sea.

Similar Species

The Common Murre is similar in size but can be distinguished by its thinner bill without the white gape stripe and its lighter head and back. The bridled morph, with a white eye-stripe or bill-stripe, is not found in the Thick-billed Murre.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet primarily consists of fish like Gadus spp. and Arctic cod, as well as the pelagic amphipod Parathemisto libellula. They also consume other crustaceans, polychaetes, and molluscs.

Conservation Status

The Thick-billed Murre is classified as Least Concern, with an estimated global population of 15 to 20 million individuals. However, they face threats from egg harvesting, hunting, pollution, and climate change, which may impact their sea-ice associated habitat.

As a Vagrant

The Thick-billed Murre is a rare vagrant in European countries south of its breeding range. It has been recorded as far south as Florida in the western Atlantic and California in the Pacific.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Thick-billed Murre Fun Facts

Did you know?
Thick-billed Murrelets can dive for up to 3 minutes and reach depths of up to 200 metres.

Thick-billed Murres on Birda


More Auks

A photo of a Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella)

Crested Auklet

Aethia cristatella
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
A Friendly Place
I love using the bird app, I have a pretty good knowledge of birds. But I do have some gaps in it, so it’s nice to have a safe space to check on a sighting to confirm the species. It’s really enjoyable and I love the badges you can collect. It’s like a real life Pokémon go.
Unbridled Discoveries
Great app for bird lovers
I love this app! It’s a wonderful way to track birding sessions, and also connect you with fellow birders. I also really like the unidentified bird section, it’s a great community tool to help figure out what a never-before-seen bird is!
Recommend for any bird watcher
Very wholesome app: I joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😃
Great app for beginner twitchers
I’ve had a passion of photographing birds for a long time now but have only just gotten into proper birdwatching, and this app is brilliant for those just getting started. There is a great sense of community among users and the app is very easy to use and professional. Awesome app altogether
Nick S
Work together with community
Been loving using this app to log my bird sightings and work together with community members to identify different birds. I've already learned a lot since I started about a month ago!
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❤️
The best bird logging app
Birda is honestly the best bird logging app I have seen. I love all the features it has from being able to do a session and log all the birds you see in one sitting, to being able to connect with other birders from all over the globe!
Emma L
App got me interested in birding!
Super friendly community <3 This app got me interested in birding! It teaches me cool stuff and its super friendly, and fun :) The species guide is really developing my knowledge, and i love seeing cool new birds from round the world!
Gets me outdoors more
I'm still loving this app. I use it most days & gets me outdoors more. Enjoying watching others progress and photo's, it's improved my wellbeing.... I love this app! I can keep a record of sightings and see what others have seen too.
Jake W
Great app
I use this app all the time as it’s quick and easy to log individual sightings or whole birding sessions. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and the forum is full of really friendly people. The challenges are a great way to get involved and learn more about birds. Cannot recommend it enough!
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.