Thick-billed Murres breed in colonies on select coastal cliffs north of New England. Their winter range includes the Gulf of Maine, but most individuals remain well offshore. Observation typically requires a spotting scope (and strong easterly winds) or going out on a winter boat trip, but occasionally birds may be seen close to shore, well within binocular range. Last weekend, several birders reported a Thick-billed Murre near the Portland Fish Pier, and on Sunday afternoon, I arrived to find the bird floating just yards from the pier.
Thick-billed Murres can dive to great depths to catch and consume fish, crustaceans, and other ocean creatures. In turn, they're caught and eaten by various predators including Peregrine Falcons, Gyrfalcons, Great Skuas, and humans. Other causes of death in modern times include pollution from oil spills and drowning in fishing nets. To learn more about Thick-billed Murres, visit All About Birds.