Alca torda - Razorbill:

Click Photo for full-page view Click image for full page view with caption Click image for full page view with caption

Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Laridae / Alca / Species

This section is currently predominantly used in Wildpro to link different data types and demonstrate inter-relationships. Although it identifies that taxonomic interrelationships of species (see "header") it does not currently contain detailed information on the bird species itself. As Wildpro is developed, we will gradually convert these pages into full Species pages.

The taxonomy of birds is still under review and the A World Checklist of Birds by Burt L. Monroe, Jr and Charles G. Sibley (B89) has been chosen as the primary reference. The taxonomic structure will be amended when new editions or complete references are identified by the scientific world as the recognized primary references for taxonomy.

Alternative Names
  • --
Distribution North-western Palearctic, north-eastern North America; winters to Mediterranean, south-eastern United States (B89)
  • Breeding - "Coastal cliffs and islands." (B163)
  • Winter: "Coastal seas." (B17)
Further Information Appearance: 
  • Length: 38-43cm (B164)
  • Wingspan: 60-69 cm (B164)
  • Bill: Short, deep, laterally flattened, with slight hook. Black marked with vertical white lines. (B164)
  • Eyes: Black. (B164)
  • Feet and legs: Grey. (B164)
  • Plumage: Basically black above with white line over sides, and white below. Tail relatively long and pointed, often raised while floating. (B164)
  • Adult in summer: 
    • Head and neck including throat very black, narrow white line from eye forward to bill. Dorsal black except secondaries tipped with white giving white wing bar and in flight white trailing edge. Ventral white, underwing coverts white, flight feathers dusky. (B17, B164)
  • Adult in winter:
    • Head and neck black, may or may not have very narrow white line from eye forward to bill; dorsal black except secondaries tipped with white (trailing edge), ventral including throat and up sides of face behind eyes white. (B164)
  • Juvenile first winter: Similar to adult but bill smaller, more pointed and lacking white lines. (B164)


  • food - mainly fish, sometimes aquatic invertebrates
  • feeding behaviour - mainly surface dives


  • location and structure - nest site is variable; cliffs, crevices, no nest
  • nest building - little material required
  • breeding structure - monogamous


  • markings - patterned
  • number of eggs - 1 (2)
  • broods - one brood per season
  • incubation - by male and female; 32-39 days


  • development - Semi-precocial; stays in nest; fed by parents
  • parental caring for young - by male and female
  • fledging - 14-24 days

(B163, B164)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

  • --

Individual techniques:

Return to Top of Page