Return to the Isle of Puffins
Thermoregulation of Common Guillemot chicks
What does it mean to a Guillemot chick when it first feels the warmth of the Sun?

In my mind, I'm sitting on a grassy slope on the west coast of Lundy. The wind rustles my waterproofs and the sun has yet to clear the plateau behind me. In the viewfinder, I'm watching a ledge of Guillemots, waiting for an adult to return with a Sprat or Sand-eel for its chick. Its partner sits, droop-winged, on the guano-stained granite ledge, sheltering their chick from the wind. This chick is called "Igneous", The shadow slowly loses its hold on the headland, and sunlight touches the back of our chick's parent. It stands, flapping its wings, and in that moment our chick first feels the warmth of the Sun.

Until now, only warmth has come from its parents, the warmth of incubation, the warmth of brooding, the warmth provided by digesting yolk or fish.

  • Ainley, D.G., Nettleship, D.N., Carter, H.R. & Storey, A.E. (2002) "Common murre (Uria aalge)", Poole, A. & Gill, F. eds. "Birds of North America" The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, & American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Gaston, A., & Jones, I (1998) "The Auks" Oxford University Press
  • Harris M.P., Webb, A. & Tasker, M.L. (1991) "Growth of young Guillemots Uria aalge after leaving the colony" Seabird 13:40-44
  • Birkhead, T.R. & Nettleship, D.N. (1985) "Plumage variation in young Razorbills and murres" J. Field Ornithol. 56(3):246-250
  • Hope Jones, P. & Rees, E.I.S. (1985) "Appearance and behaviour of immature Guillemots and Razorbills" British Birds 78:370-377
  • Mahoney, S.P. & Threlfall, W. (1981) "Notes on the eggs, embryos and chick growth of Common Guillemots Uria aalge in Newfoundland" Ibis 123:211-218

Internal Links

External Links