Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia
ALCIDAE Members:
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General Comments Quite similar to the Common Murre in appearance and in overall habits, the Thick-billed Murre is a slightly more northern/boreal counterpart. Yet, the latter species is more strongly migratory, such that the species is recorded in North Carolina waters in most winters (though in very small numbers). Surprisingly, nearly all records of Thick-billed Murres are along the coast (except in Feb 2022); one does not realistically seek the species on a pelagic trip, though north of the Carolinas the species can be seen on such boat trips. Instead, Thick-billeds have an affinity to forage in shallow inshore waters, such as around jetties, groins, or piers; some or many of these birds are likely sick or injured. There are no state records away from tidal water.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter visitor, essentially coastal (inshore ocean); perhaps slightly declining in recent years, though with an uptick in records in Feb 2022. Very rare (approximately 42 records) along the entire coast, including the southern coast, where there are a handful of records for the Wrightsville Beach area. Around a dozen offshore records, with three of them coming in Feb 2018, and three more in Feb 2022 and three more records again in Feb 2023. The only Tidewater record is of one shot at the mouth of the Neuse River on 22 Dec 1896. Mainly from early Dec to late Mar, with a few records to 1 May (specimen) [Chat 69:116 link]. Peak counts: 5, off of Oregon Inlet, 27 Feb 2022; 3, Wrightsville Beach, 22 Mar 1986; 3, off Oregon Inlet, 19 Feb 2023; 2, Bogue Inlet, 30 Mar 2005; 2, off Hatteras Inlet, 18 Feb 2018.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips You will just have to luck into one along the coast in winter, though a more careful observer who scans waters around jetties and piers has a better chance than someone who has no scope. A few may linger near jetties for a few days, but these are perhaps mostly sick or injured birds. There are a handful of pelagic records, though your chances on winter trips is barely 10%.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-05-17], LeGrand[2023-03-11], LeGrand[2022-09-12]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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