Plate 17: Razorbill

Alca torda

Nests & Eggs: Razorbill

Aquatic bird that lives on the seashore.

A common sea-bird of the North Atlantic, resorting in vast numbers to certain rocky cliffs for the purpose of breeding, and returning to deeper waters for the rest of the year….

Differing from the [Great Auk] in its small size and retaining its power of flight, which that extinct species had lost, and from the [Guillemot] in its peculiarly-shaped bill, which is vertically enlarged, compressed, and deeply furrowed, as well as in its elongated, wedge-shaped tail. A fine white line, running on each side from the base of the culmen to the eye, is in the adult bird in breeding-apparel (with rare exceptions) a further characteristic. Otherwise the appearance of all these birds may be briefly described in the same words—head, breast and upper parts generally of a deep glossy black, and the lower parts and tip of the secondaries of a pure white, while the various changes of plumage dependent on age or season are alike in all. In habits the razorbill agrees closely with the true guillemots, laying its single egg (which is not, however, subject to the same variety of coloration as in the guillemot) on the ledges of cliffs, but it is said as a rule to occupy higher elevations, and when not breeding to keep farther out to sea.

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the “The Auks and Their Friends” in Half Hours With Fishes, Reptiles, and Birds out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XVII: Razorbill, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Razorbill at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Razorbill Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Razorbill Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

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