Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family
Description ADULT SUMMER Has blackish upperparts, including throat (and sometimes neck and chest too), and otherwise white underparts. Bill is bright red, eye has white iris, and note slender white plumes behind eye. ADULT WINTER Similar in plumage terms overall, but throat becomes white, head plumes are less obvious, and bill is duller. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but eye and bill are dark.
Dimensions Length: 10" (25 cm)
Habitat Very locally common in Bering Sea area, breeding colonially on Alaskan islands; nests under boulders and in rock crevices on sea cliffs. Moves to offshore waters outside breeding season.
Observation Tips Easy to see at breeding colonies, e.g. St. Paul Island, in the Pribilof Islands; off-duty birds often sit around on rocks. At other times, seen only rarely from land, but occasionally observed from boats.
Voice Utters high-pitched squeals when alarmed.
Discussion Distinctive alcid with diagnostic bill in breeding season (vaguely parakeetlike); when calling, strongly upcurved lower mandible is revealed. Swims well and dives frequently. Adopts upright posture when perched on rocks, when body looks dumpy and neck relatively long. Sexes are similar.