Black Guillemot
(Cepphus grylle)


Picture of bird
© Andrew A Reding - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Black Guillemot has a broad breeding distribution in Canada, from the Atlantic provinces to the High Arctic. What little long-term monitoring data are available suggest that this population has increased since the 1970s. However, information from the majority of the species' range is lacking, reducing this assessment's reliability. The species' wintering distribution remains unclear, so threats throughout the year are difficult to assess. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseLowAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada400,000 - 500,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Black Guillemots may have a greater exposure to contaminants and tidal stream turbine (TST) developments than more pelagic seabird species, because they prefer to forage for benthic fish in inshore areas (Butler and Buckley 2002, Johnston et al. 2018). Black Guillemot's are also vulnerable to near-shore oils spills (Ihaksi et al. 2011), and to entanglement in fishing nets set near breeding colonies (Butler and Buckley 2002).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other