Guillemot , an arctic web-footed bird, of the family alcidoe, and subfamily urinoe, including the genera uria (Mohring), brachyrham-phus (Brandt), and mergulus (Ray).« The last, to which the little guillemot belongs, has been described under Auk. The genus uria is characterized by a moderate head; rather long, straight, and pointed bill, with a distinct angle on the under mandible; wings short and pointed, with the first quill longest; tail very short; tarsi shorter than middle toe; legs short and robust; toes rather long, fully webbed; claws strong and curved; hind toe wanting. The general form is short and robust, the size never large, and the prevailing colors black and white. There are about seven species, inhabiting the arctic seas between America and Asia, migrating to temperate regions during winter. The flight is rapid, with short flaps, near the surface of the water; they are excellent swimmers and divers, but poor walkers from the shortness and posterior position of their legs; they feed on fish and Other products of the sea; they deposit usually a single egg, of large size, on rocks overhanging the water, breeding in large companies.
The black guillemot (U. grylle, white; bill black, and feet red; in winter and in the young plumage, the under parts, neck, and rump are white, the head above and back dark brown. This species is found breeding, about June, from the arctic regions to the bay of Fundy; according to Audubon, it lays three eggs, in a nest composed of pebbles; the eggs are about 2 1/2 by if in., of an earthy white color, blotched with dark purplish black toward the larger end; they are delicate and nutritious articles of food, and even the black and tough flesh has proved palatable to many an arctic voyager. There is a variety on the N. W. coast (U. colamba, Pall.), resembling the preceding, except that the white of the wing is divided by a diagonal band of brownish black. The foolish guillemot (U. troile, Linn.; U. lomvia, Brun.) is about 17 in. long, and 30 in extent of wings; the general color above is grayish black, tinged with dark brown on the sides of the head and neck; a bar on the wings, and a line encircling and behind the eye, white; under parts white; feet greenish black.
It is occasionally found as far south as New York, but breeds in numbers on the coast of Labrador; the female lavs a single egg of large size, white with dark blotches, on the bare rock, and, like the other species, plucks feathers from the abdomen over a space large enough to cover the egg; both sexes assist in incubation. The plumage is exceedingly dense, and admirably adapted for a creature exposed to severe cold; the flesh is tough, and eaten only by hungry seamen; the eggs are highly esteemed as food. They are rapid fliers, and such bold swimmers and divers as to defy the highest waves. The thick-billed guillemot (U. arra, Pall.) is probably a mere variety of the last, differing only in its shorter and wider bill. The guillemots allow man to invade their retreats and knock them down with clubs; this apparent apathy is owing to the structure of the bird, which is ill calculated for progression on land, but admirably adapted for a life on the water. The above described species are found also on the northern shores of Europe. - The genus bra-chyrhamphus includes the smaller guillemots, with a larger head, shorter bill densely covered with feathers at the base, curved upper mandible, and in other respects as in the preceding genus.
The marbled guillemot (B. marmoratus, Gmel.) is about 10 in. long, brownish black above, tinged with ashy on the back, with two white spots on each side of the back; ring round hind neck, and under parts, white, bill black, and feet yellow; the young have the upper feathers with reddish edges, and the under parts spotted and marbled with brownish black and white. Several others inhabit the North Pacific, and are most abundant about the N. W. coast of America. The name of guillemot is given to the horn-billed auk (cerorhina mono-cerata, Pall.) of N. W. America. The habits of all the guillemots arc the same; their numbers, beauty, activity, and useful properties have been the admiration of all arctic voyagers, many of whom have been saved from starvation by their eggs and flesh.
Guillomot (Uria grylle) - Winter Plumage a. Head. b. Foot.
Guillemot and Young - Summer Plumage.
Lath.) is 14 in. long, and 22 in. in extent of wings; the general color in summer is black tinged with green; a large transverse oval spot on the wing, under wing coverts, and axillaries.