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Razorbill 29 (John Fox).JPG

Razorbill

Alca torda

Crosán

Status
: Resident, though occur inshore/ land during the breeding season, March/April to August/September

Conservation Concern
: Amber-listed in Ireland as the majority of the population breed at less than ten sites. The European population is considered to be Secure.

Identification: A species of Auk, highly marine and only found on land in the breeding season. A black and white seabird, black above and white below, with a distinct breeding plumage. Head and neck all black in the breeding season with white on the front of the neck and face in the winter. Bill heavy, except in first winter birds. At a distance can be confused with Guillemot. Razorbill slightly smaller with blackish rather than brownish upperparts, more white on the side of the body and the bill distinctly heavier and blunter on adult birds. White 'armpit' compared to the darker 'armpit' of the Guillemot. Seen flying in lines close to the sea with Guillemots.

Similar Species
: Common Guillemot and other Auk species.

Call: Similar to Guillemot but tone is harder.

Diet
: Mainly small fish, some invertebrates, caught by surface diving.

Breeding: Nests on sea cliffs. Similar in habits to Guillemot with which it will breed in mixed colonies. Returns to colonies in March and April and departs by August. Will also use more secluded nest sites, fissures in the cliffs and also in screes, where it is more difficult to see, except when birds stand outside of their nest sites.

Wintering: Winters at sea.

Where to See: With over 3000 birds, Great Saltee island, off County Wexford, is the most accessible of the islands on which to view this species. However, the species can be seen from the mainland. The Cliffs of Moher, with over 7000 birds, in County Clare are well know. Horn Head, with over 6000 Razorbills, in County Donegal is another spectacular place to view Auks. Can also be seen on Ireland's Eye and Howth Head in County Dublin.

Monitored by
: Breeding seabirds are monitored through surveys carried out every 15-20 years, the last was Seabird 2000, which was undertaken between 1998 & 2002.

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