Volume 50, No. 2

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Melanism in a Common Murre Uria aalge in Kachemak Bay, Alaska


1U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center, 4210 University Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99508, USA *(
2U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center, 250 Egan Drive, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA


SCHOEN, S.K., ARIMITSU, M.L., MARSTELLER, C.E. & HEFLIN, B.M. 2022. Melanism in a Common Murre Uria aalge in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Marine Ornithology 50: 225 - 227

Received 17 August 2022, accepted 02 September 2022

Date Published: 2022/10/15
Date Online: 2022/09/22
Key words: Common Murre, Uria aalge, melanism, Kachemak Bay, Alaska


In accord with melanism being uncommon in birds, we could find only six published records of completely melanistic Common Murres Uria aalge, one of the most widely and intensively studied of all seabirds. We added to the record by observing a Common Murre in completely dark, melanistic alternate plumage every summer from 2017 to 2021 at Gull Island in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, USA. In 2017, the bird frequented the colony periphery, indicating that it could have been a subadult. Subsequently, it occupied the same narrow rock ledge within the colony every summer from 2018 to 2021, an indication that it may have been attempting to breed. Because we have been conducting long-term monitoring on Gull Island, we are in the unique position to be able to monitor the attendance and reproductive performance of this distinctively marked murre into the future.


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