Seabird Abstracts

Diving speed and food-size selection in common guillemots, Uria aalge

Swennen C & Duiven P (1991) Netherlands J Sea Research 27(2):191-196

Results of choice experiments showed that guillemots Uria aalge prefer sprats Sprattus sprattus of a body depth of 16 to 17 mm. This is notably smaller than the maximum size that guillemots are able to swallow (body depth about 44 mm). A small proportion of the selected fish was used for display on the breeding ledge; these were significantly bigger than those preferred for consumption.

Mean velocity during horizontal underwater flight was 2.18 m.s-1, with the maximum recorded being 2.57 m.s-1. This is considerably faster than the speed of any prey.


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