Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle
ALCIDAE Members:
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General Comments Of the six Atlantic alcids, the Black Guillemot was the last one to be added to the state's Definitive List; even a Pacific Ocean species -- Long-billed Murrelet -- was added before the guillemot. This species is also the most coastally oriented of the Atlantic species, as birds tend to forage close to rocky shores at all seasons, not showing an affinity to wander far offshore. Thus, most records for the mid-Atlantic coast tend to be in the vicinity of jetties. Oddly enough, despite being farther from the range of the species, South Carolina had a definitive record of Black Guillemot before North Carolina did, and that state also has several verified records. Until late in 2018, the two accepted records for North Carolina were sightings only, but finally one was photographed in Dec 2018. This last record was accepted by the NC BRC and thus the photos place the species on the Definitive List; photos are available on the Carolina Bird Club Photo Gallery. Another record came in the winter 2019-20, at the same site as the one from the previous winter (same bird?).
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Casual winter visitor to the coast. The three accepted records are of single birds in basic plumage seen at the Wrightsville Beach jetty from 24 Apr - 10 May 1993* [Chat 62:32-33 link]; in the surf at Kill Devil Hills on 15 Feb 2003* [Chat 67:68 link]; and photographed at Nags Head on 26 Dec 2018* [Chat 83:20 link], [Chat 83:60 link]. A credible record was one seen at Nags Head -- from Jennette's Pier as was the bird the previous winter -- on 9 Feb 2020 [Chat 84:63 link]; this record has not yet been reviewed by the NC BRC. A recent Dec report from Portsmouth Island was not accepted by the NC BRC, in part because the bird was said to be in mostly breeding plumage (unlikely for the winter season).
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips
1/2 *
Attribution LeGrand[2020-04-18], LeGrand[2019-06-26], LeGrand[2019-04-19]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.