Greenwich was treated to the most amazing bird sighting off Greenwich Point this past winter -- a Thick-Billed Murre. The only known sightings of this bird at the Point previously were recorded in 1950 and 1929, according to Joe Zeranski’s official Checklist of the Birds of Greenwich Point.
The Thick-billed Murre is a seabird that spends most of its life, up to 25 years, in the frigid open oceans of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, rarely coming into Long Island Sound. With short wings and webbed feet, they can fly with quick wingbeats up to 75 miles per hour, but are most remarkable as swimmers. Thick-billed Murres dive down to 330 feet or more to capture their prey of fish, squid and crustaceans. Young birds make their first migratory journeys swimming up to 620 miles to their wintering grounds. The birds usually only come to shore to nest on remote, rocky cliff ledges, using just a few pebbles and debris cemented with feces to keep their one egg from rolling off.
When news of this particular Thick-billed Murre spread quickly through the birding community, many binocular and spotting scope-toting visitors came from far and wide to view this bird off the Point. For many it was a lifer, meaning a bird they had never seen in the wild, and a rare treat!