Pigeon guillemot

Ready for take off, photo by Barry Troutman

Species:Cepphus columba


The pigeon guillemot, Cepphus columba (pronounced, SEP-fus) is a seabird in the Alcidae family which includes auklets, puffins, murres, murrelets, and guillemots and referred to as alcids or auks. Members of the family can dive up to 200 meters and breed in colonies along the coast or on small islands. Pigeon guillemots are social birds but never form large flocks and stay relatively dispersed even on land. Based on BirdLife International data, the global distribution in 1993 accounted for 235,000 individuals and population trends consider the population stable and categorized as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (2019). Factors that are likely to affect pigeon guillemot populations include oil spills, mammalian predators, habitat loss, and climate change (Ewens, 1992).

Fiery red mouth lining, photo by Jeff Schwilk

Unlike other members of this family, the pigeon guillemot maintains its presence in nearshore waters and in fact are a resident species in the Puget Sound and the only bird in the Alcidae family that breeds in the South Puget Sound (Lee & Green, 2017). In 2013, the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee put together a Quality Assurance Project Plan to begin surveying breeding colonies in South Puget Sound. The Nisqually Reach Nature Center (NRNC) is going into their 6th year monitoring pigeon guillemot breeding populations in the South Puget Sound contributing more data to assess populations in the Puget Sound. We know a lot about breeding colonies but there are still questions left unanswered. Since 2009 studies are focusing on using foraging ecology to tell us more about the community as a whole and monitor changes over time. 


Food Habits
Population Trends and Conservation
South Puget Sound Research
Literature Cited
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