Irish Name: Foracha
Scientific name: Uria aalge
Bird Family: Auks
Conservation status


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


The commonest species of Auk in Ireland, a highly marine species which are only found on land in the breeding season. A dark brown and white seabird, brown above and white below, with a distinct breeding plumage. In the breeding season head and neck completely dark brown, in the winter white on front of the neck and face. At a distance can be confused with Razorbill. Guillemot has a longer body, browner upperparts with less white on the side of the body and a lighter bill. Shows a darker 'armpit' than Razorbill. Seen flying in lines close to the sea with Razorbills.


Vocal in colonies with birds giving repeated nasal notes and prolonged bellowing. The young on the sea also give a high-pitched call after leaving the breeding colony.


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


Comes ashore to nest from May onwards, colonies deserted by the first week in August. Nests on cliff ledges, often in large colonies, defends the smallest nest territory, sometimes only 5cm square. Restricted to cliffs with suitable ledges. Lays egg directly on to rock.


Winters at sea. Some Irish birds are believed to winter near their breeding sites.

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.

Similar Species


Irish Name:
Scientific name:
Alca torda
Bird Family:

Black Guillemot

Irish Name:
Foracha dhubh
Scientific name:
Cepphus grylle
Bird Family: