Pigeon Guillemot

Range Map
Cepphus columba

The Pigeon Guillemot is a bird of the northern Pacific. These birds nest in burrows and on cliffs along rocky shores. Though capable of “flying” to depths of more than 140 feet, their best feeding opportunities are in shallower waters between 35 and 60 feet. When in pursuit of their fish prey, their wings generate propulsion, while their feet are used for steering.

Taxonomists recognise five subspecies of Pigeon Guillemot:

  • C. c. snowi breeds between northern Japan and Kamchatka on the Kuril Islands.
  • C. c. columba breeds in Kamchatka and north to the Bering Strait and western Alaska.
  • C. c. kaiurka breeds on the Commander Islands to the western and central Aleutian Islands.
  • C. c. adiantus breeds on the central Aleutian Islands, and south to Washington.
  • C. c. eureka breeds in Oregon and California.

The birds I found on the Central California coast were a surprise to me, as I’d not seen them on my earlier visits to the region. I’ve since learned that though uncommon this far south, their presence here is expected. Nearer the Oregon-California border and north to Alaska they are more common.

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