Xantuss Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)

Xantuss Murrelet

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Alcidae | [latin] Synthliboramphus hypoleucus | [UK] Xantuss Murrelet | [FR] Guillemot de Xantus | [DE] Lummenalk | [ES] Mergulo Californiano Aliclaro | [NL] Xantus’ Alk


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Synthliboramphus hypoleucus NA, MA w coasts
Synthliboramphus hypoleucus hypoleucus nw Baja California (Mexico)
Synthliboramphus hypoleucus scrippsi Channel Is. (California, USA) and islands off w Baja California (Mexico)

Physical charateristics

A small, black and white alcid, with a solid black back and thin black bill. Suggests a miniature murre. Very similar to Craveri’s but with white wing linings in flight. The hypoleucus
race of Baja California, a rare fall visitor to California, has white around the eye.

Listen to the sound of Xantuss Murrelet

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/X/Xantuss Murrelet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 38 cm wingspan max.: 43 cm
size min.: 24 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 44 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 2 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


North America, Middle America : West coasts. Synthliboramphus hypoleucus breeds off the coast of southern California, USA and Baja California, Mexico.


Ocean, islands.
Generally in relatively warm waters and well offshore. May be close to nesting islands but almost never close to mainland; may go far out beyond continental shelf. Nests on islands with steep cliffs, rocky slopes, dense cover of bushes.


Breeds on islands in small colonies. Birds typically have the same mate and same nest site each year.
Nest: Site is in rock crevice, under dense bush, under debris, or in abandoned burrow of other species; no nest built.
Eggs: 2, rarely 1. Large for size of bird, pale blue to dull green, with few or many brown spots, sometimes solid brown. Incubation by both sexes, 27-44 days.
Young: Parents do not feed young in nest. 1-
2 nights after hatching, downy young are led from nest by parents, who then fly away; young make their way to water, often jumping from cliffs more than 200′ down to surf. Parents and young reunite in water and swim a
way from island. Young remain with parents and are fed by them for lengthy period.

Feeding habits

Poorly known. Probably eats mostly small crustaceans and other marine invertebrates. Not thought to be much of a fish eater.
Behavior: Forages by diving and swimming underwater, propelled by wings. Pairs or family groups may forage together.


This species is considered Vulnerable because of its small range and small, declining population. Several colonies have gone extinct, and introduced predators are causing declines in some of the remaining nine colonies. Conservation action is beginning to have some positive effects, and the continuing eradication of introduced predators from existing colonies, the discovery of new colonies and/or the recolonisation of former colonies may eventually result in a downlisting to Near Threatened.
Xantuss Murrelet status Vulnerable


Breeds southern California (Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands) to central Baja. Some winter north to Monterey; casually to Washington. Migration:
Off southern California, common mainly March through June. Numbers drop sharply in midsummer, with many of these birds evidently going north (at least to central California). Winter range poorly known. Probably migrates largely by swimming, not flying.

Distribution map

Xantuss Murrelet distribution range map

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