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Least Auklet Aethia pusilla


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Least Auklet, breeding adult on rock
credit: USFWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has mainly brown upperparts (note pale wing bars and scapulars) and paler underparts, variably mottled brown (some birds are mainly white below, others are almost entirely marbled brown, except for white throat). Iris is white; bill is stubby, dark, and red-tipped, with "knob" on upper surface; note also subtle white streaks on forecrown and lores. ADULT WINTER Similar, but underparts are entirely white, white streaking on head is indistinct, and bill lacks "knob." JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but elements of upperparts are dark brown, not black.

Dimensions Length: 6" (15 cm)

Habitat Very locally common, breeding on Alaskan islands in Bering Sea. Nests colonially, under boulders and in rock crevices. Otherwise found at sea.

Observation Tips Easy to see if you visit a breeding colony, e.g. St. Paul Island, in the Pribilof Islands; off-duty birds often sit around on rocks.

Range Alaska

Voice Utters high-pitched squeals at colonies.

Discussion Tiny, dumpy alcid. Flight sometimes seems "out of control", with direction veering from side-to-side. Adopts upright posture when perched on rock and often looks rather long-necked. Sexes are similar.