Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Razorbill
Gaelic: Coltraiche, Làmhaidh
Photography © Suzanne
Dail Beag - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
8th October, 2008
"At Dail Mor loch (Lewis) 11 Whooper Swans including at least 1 juvenile... There was also a
Manx Shearwater washed up on the beach, like most folk I have never seen one close. I took a few photo pics for ID if anyone is interested. One of the old names is 'Puffin' it looked just like a wee auk. "
" Just to say the pictures of a dead Manx shearwater on your site actually show a young Razorbill
So much for ID photos - As you can see my field skills need attention - fortunately the experts are keeping an eye me!
This is photo of a Manx Shearwater's bill for comparison.
Our Razorbill photographs:
- Alca torda
- Gaelic: Coltraiche, Làmhaidh
- UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Winter Visitor. 164,000 birds (Summer) BTO . See from breeding cliffs & sea-watching points
- WI: Abundant migrant breeder (10,000+ breeding pairs)
- Breeding: Large colonies. Laying a single large egg on bare rock or ground. Islands, rocky shores & cliffs on North Atlantic coasts including Scotland. Also East North America. N &W Europe. NW Russia.
- Winters: Eurasian birds winter in N Atlantic nr breeding grounds. Some head south to western Mediterranean.
- Habitat: Coastal cliffs, otherwise at sea (pelagic) nr breeding grounds
- Diet: Forages for food by swimming underwater. Fish, especially sandeels, sprats and herrings, some invertebrates
- Medium-sized seabird (38-43cm length). Black above, white below. (In winter black face becomes white). Thick black, bill with blunt end. Pointed tail. Birds only come to shore to breed
- Typical lifespan 13yrs. Max recorded age 14yrs 11mths
- Listen to a Razorbill (RSPB site)
- Similar birds Guillemot, Puffin
Both partners of a razorbill pair take turns about in foraging, and caring for the egg or young. Whilst the egg is incubating the non-sitting parent will forage to feed up to 35 miles to to sea, but when the egg hatches they forage much closer - up to 7 miles away.
Razorbills nest in large colonies. They lay a single large egg, the eggs all have different patterns to each other - it is thought that this is to help the parents identify their own egg.
The collective name for razorbills and other auks is a raft, colony, flock of auks.
Razorbill records in the Western Isles
Abundant migrant breeder (10,000+ breeding pairs)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Razorbill is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section