Yet another post on the Pigeon Guillemot (en français : Guillemot colombin | Scientific name: Cepphus columba)… I always look forward to their winter return in and around the Burrard Dry Dock Pier here in North Vancouver. I have no idea why I like these birds so much — maybe it is the combination of black and white plumage or their bright red mouth and legs or the way they “chat” and circle each other.
Be that as it may, these birds returned here a few days ago. But this year, they came back just before acquiring their breading plumage, as you can see in the pictures below (they are normally mostly black, with a large white “window” on their wings).
Now I would like to correct a bit of misinformation that I have published in the past: The family to which they belong (Alcids) are not, as I believed, related to penguins. Instead, they fill a similar ecological niche as penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, not to mention that some of them occasionally act like penguins. But unlike their “friends” from the south, all Alcids can fly (as far as I know), even if they are not always the most graceful flyers.
Like many water birds, Pigeon Guillemots like to dunk their heads repeatedly in the water:
Some of you may wonder how I know these are Pigeon Guillemots and not Black Guillemots, a very closely related species. Well, the following photo should provide the answer: The black “wedge” on the wing’s “white window” is diagnostic: