Alcids are ocean-dwelling birds who, for the most part, only venture onto land during the summer nesting season. New England has six expected species that can be sorted into three size groups. The smallest species is the Dovekie at ~8" long; the largest three are Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre, and Razorbill at about ~18" long; and the middle group consists of the ~13" long Atlantic Puffin and Black Guillemot.
While all of these Alcids can, at times, be spotted from shore, the Black Guillemot is the only species found year-round in shallow coastal waters. During the summer, adult Black Guillemots are visually striking with large white wing patches on otherwise black bodies, and bright red legs. Their winter plumage is surprisingly different; birds are mostly white with variable dark mottling.