Alcidae – Auks

Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica ©James Lowen Website

In some ways, the auks are the penguins of the Northern Hemisphere, though they are in fact completely unrelated. Both auks and penguins are deep diving seabirds that feed by pursuing fish underwater; however, unlike the penguins, which have lost the power of flight, most auks can fly, although their fast whirring flight and dumpy bodies do not make for elegance. Only one species of auk, the Great Auk, was flightless, and it is now extinct.

Several species have different common names in Europe and North America. The guillemots of Europe are referred to as murres in North America, if they occur in both continents, and the little auk is referred to as the dovekie.

A small family, auks occur throughout the seas of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species are dark above and white below, which acts as camouflage, though some, such as the Puffin have colourful beaks or, amongst the murrelets, tufts or crests. The legs are set far back on the body making them accomplished swimmers, but rather ungainly on land, and most come ashore only for a short period to breed.

The feeding behaviour of auks is often compared to that of penguins; both groups are wing-propelled pursuit divers. In the region where auks live, their only seabird competition is the cormorants (which are dive-powered by their strong feet). In areas where the two groups feed on the same prey, the auks tend to feed further offshore. Strong-swimming murres hunt faster schooling fish, whereas auklets take slower moving krill. Time depth recorders on auks have shown that they can dive as deep as 100 m in the case of Uria guillemots, 40 m for the Cepphus guillemots and 30 m for the auklets.

Auks are pelagic birds, spending the majority of their adult life on the open sea and going ashore only for breeding, although some species, like the Common Guillemot, spend a great part of the year defending their nesting spot from others. Auks are monogamous, and tend to form lifelong pairs. They typically lay a single egg, and they are philopatric (they use the nesting site year after year).

Some species, such as the Uria guillemots, nest in large colonies on cliff edges; others, like the Cepphus guillemots, breed in small groups on rocky coasts; and the puffins, auklets and some murrelets nest in burrows. All species except the Brachyramphus murrelets are colonial.

According to the IOC there are 24 species of Auks in the familly Alcidae; they are:

Little Auk Alle alle

Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia
Common Murre Uria aalge

Razorbill Alca torda

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle
Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba
Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus
Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix
Kittlitz’s Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

Guadalupe Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus
Scripps’s Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi
Craveri’s Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri
Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus
Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

Cassin’s Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula
Least Auklet Aethia pusilla
Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea
Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica
Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata
Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

Species Links
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    HBW Species Account
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    Species Account
    The ancient murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus) is a bird in the auk family. The genus name Synthliboramphus is from Ancient Greek sunthlibo, "to compress", and rhamphos, "bill", and antiquus is Latin for ancient.[2] The English term "murrelet" is a diminutive of "murre", a word of uncertain origins, but which may imitate the call of the common guillemot.
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    Cornell Species Account
    Widespread throughout the north Pacific, the Ancient Murrelet nests colonially in burrows or rock crevices.
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Species Account
    A small auk, puffins are familiar as the 'clowns' of the coast with their brightly coloured bills, bumpy landings and waddling walk. Puffins live in burrows in the short grass at the top of cliffs and feed on fish, such as sandeels, which they catch at sea by diving beneath the surface and using their wings to swim in pursuit.
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species profile
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    HBW Species Account
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    IUCN Species Status
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Species Account
    The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean; two related species, the tufted puffin and the horned puffin, are found in the northeastern Pacific.
  • Atlantic [Common] Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Brief notes
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    Cornell Species Account
    A Black-And-White bird of the northern seas, the Black Guillemot breeds along the coasts of Canada and Greenland.
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    RSPB Species Account
    Profile with illustration
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    IUCN Species Status
    Full species account
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca Grylle Linnaeus, 1758, Baltic Sea. Phylogenetic analyses suggest present species is basal to its two congeners, but evolutionary relationships among races unresolved (perhaps due to incomplete lineage sorting). Much geographical variation throughout range, with racial limits uncertain. Other proposed races are ultimus (Melville Peninsula, in N Canada) and tajani (E Wrangel I), both included in mandtii; and atlantis (S Sweden), in arcticus. Five subspecies recognized.
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    BirdLife Species Account
    Full species account...
  • Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

    Species Account
    The black guillemot or tystie (Cepphus grylle) is a medium-sized alcid. Adult birds have black bodies with a white wing patch, a thin dark bill, and red legs and feet. They show white wing linings in flight. In winter, the upperparts are pale grey and the underparts are white. The wings remain black with the large white patch on the inner wing. They are 32–38 cm in length, and with a 49–58 cm wingspan...
  • Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-Billed Murre) Uria lomvia

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-Billed Murre) Uria lomvia

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca Lomvia Linnaeus, 1758, Greenland. Sometimes hybridizes with U. aalge, perhaps more frequently than hitherto believed. Considerable geographical variation through circumpolar range; biometric variation in general is quasi-clinal, but high degree of colour variation more difficult to interpret. Races eleonorae and heckeri very similar to arra, and possibly better merged into it; proposed race arroides considered inseparable from nominate. Four subspecies recognized.
  • Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-Billed Murre) Uria lomvia

    IUCN Species Status
  • Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-Billed Murre) Uria lomvia

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-Billed Murre) Uria lomvia

    Species Account
    The thick-billed murre or Brünnich's guillemot (Uria lomvia) is a bird in the auk family (Alcidae). This bird is named after the Danish zoologist Morten Thrane Brünnich. The very deeply black North Pacific subspecies Uria lomvia arra is also called Pallas' murre after its describer.
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    BirdLife Species Account
    Species account
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Uria Aleutica Pallas, 1811, north Pacific Ocean.Apparent geographical variation may be clinal. Genetic data show differentiation between individuals breeding north of Point Conception and individuals breeding in southern California and Baja California. Two subspecies provisionally recognized.
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    Species Account
    Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) is a small, chunky seabird that ranges widely in the North Pacific. It nests in small burrows and because of its presence on well studied islands in British Columbia and off California it is one of the better known auks. It is named for John Cassin, a Pennsylvania businessman and naturalist.
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    Cornell Species Account
    A small, dark, gregarious seabird, the Cassin's Auklet can be found feeding in flocks and nesting in colonies from Alaska to Mexico.
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Cornell Species Account
    An abundant, penguin-like bird of the cooler northern oceans, the Common Murre nests along rocky cliffs and spends its winter at sea.
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Colymbus aalge Pontoppidan, 1763, Iceland.
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    IUCN Species Status
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    BirdLife Species Account
    Full species account...
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Species Account
    Guillemots is the common name for several species of seabird in the auk family (part of the order Charadriiformes). In British use, the term comprises two genera: Uria and Cepphus. In North America the Uria species are called "murres" and only the Cepphus species are called "guillemots". This word of French origin apparently derives from a form of the name William, cf. French: Guillaume...
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Uria Craveri Salvadori, 1865, Raza Island, Gulf of California. Sometimes placed in Brachyramphus or in Endomychura. May be conspecific with S. hypoleucus, but no evidence of hybridization in zone of possible overlap (San Benito Is), and recent work shows them to be genetically distinct. Monotypic.
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    IUCN Species Status
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    Cornell Species Account
    Currently there are two species in the genus Synthliboramphus, the Craveri’s and Xantu’s Murrelets. However recent molecular work strongly suggests that the two populations of Xantu’s should be separated as species.
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    Species Account
    Craveri’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri) is a small seabird which breeds on offshore islands in both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California off the Baja peninsula of Mexico.
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca cristatella Pallas, 1769, Hokkaido to Kamchatka. Analysis of nuclear DNA suggests may be sister to A. psittacula, whereas analysis of mtDNA suggests that present species and A. pygmaea form a clade, with A. psittacula a close relative of the two. Monotypic.
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    IUCN Species Status
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Species Account
    The crested auklet (Aethia cristatella) is a small seabird of the family Alcidae, distributed throughout the northern Pacific and the Bering Sea. The species feeds by diving in deep waters, eating krill and a variety of small marine animals.
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Species Account
    The horned puffin (Fratercula corniculata) is an auk, similar in appearance to the Atlantic puffin. It is a pelagic seabird that feeds primarily by diving for fish. It nests in colonies, often with other auks.
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Cornell Species Account
    A striking seabird, the Horned Puffin nests in colonies on islands and coastlines of Alaska. It spends most of the year on the high seas of the northern Pacific.
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Mormon corniculata J. F. Naumann, 1821, Kamchatka, Russia. Monotypic.
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    IUCN Species Status
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Uria wumizusume Temminck, 1836, Japan. Closely related to S. antiquus. Monotypic.
  • Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

    IUCN Species Status
  • Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume

    Species Account
    The Japanese murrelet or crested murrelet (Synthliboramphus wumizusume) is a small bird that inhabits rocky islets and reefs in the warm waters of Japan, Russia and South Korea. It has black and bluish grey upper body and white underparts plumage.
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Uria brevirostris Vigors, 1829, San Blas, Mexico; error = North Pacific. Recent study found that birds from Attu I and from Gulf of Alaska represent two discrete evolutionarily significant units, having been genetically isolated for a very long period. Monotypic.
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

    IUCN Species Status
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris

    Species Account
    The Kittlitz's murrelet, (Brachyramphus brevirostris) is a small alcid found in the waters off Alaska and Eastern Siberia. This near threatened species is, like the closely related marbled murrelet, unusual for seabirds in not being colonial, nesting instead in isolated locations on mountain tops, where the nests were known to Native Americans for many years before skeptical ornithologists described and photographed them
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Species Account
    The least auklet (Aethia pusilla) is a seabird and the smallest species of auk. It is the most abundant seabird in North America, and one of the most abundant in the world, with a population of around nine million birds. They breed on the islands of Alaska and Siberia, and spend the winter close to the edge of the ice sheet[clarification needed]. Their largest colonies are on the Aleutian Islands, St. Lawrence Island and Little Diomede Island.
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    IUCN Species Status
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    HBW Species Account
    Uria pusilla Pallas, 1811, Kamchatka, Russia. Monotypic.
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    RSPB
    Profile, image & UK distribution
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    Species Account
    he little auk or dovekie (Alle alle) is a small auk, the only member of the genus Alle. Alle is the Sami name of the long-tailed duck; it is onomatopoeic and imitates the call of the drake duck.
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    IUCN Species Status
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca Alle Linnaeus, 1758, Scotland.
  • Little Auk (Dovekie) Alle alle

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix

    Cornell Species Account
  • Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Cepphus perdix Pallas, 1811, Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.
  • Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix

    Species Account
    The long-billed murrelet (Brachyramphus perdix) is a small seabird from the North Pacific. The genus name Brachyramphus is from Ancient Greek brakhus, "short", and rhamphos, "bill".
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    Cornell Species Account
    A chunky Pacific seabird, the Marbled Murrelet is unique among alcids (puffin relatives) in nesting high up in large trees in coastal forests. Little-known until the past few decades, it now is thought to be seriously threatened by logging.
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    Species Account
    The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small seabird from the North Pacific. It is a member of the auk family. It nests in old-growth forests or on the ground at higher latitudes where trees cannot grow. Its habit of nesting in trees was suspected but not documented until a tree-climber found a chick in 1974
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    HBW Species Account
    Species account
  • Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    BirdLife Species Account
    Full species account...
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca psittacula Pallas, 1769, Kamchatka, Russia.Formerly placed in monotypic genus Cyclorrhynchus, but recent phylogenetic study places it in present genus. Analysis of nuclear DNA indicates that this species is possibly sister to A. cristatella, whereas mtDNA suggests that it is close relative of a clade that contains A. pygmaea and A. cristatella. Monotypic
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    IUCN Species Status
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    Species Account
    The parakeet auklet (Aethia psittacula) is a small seabird of the North Pacific. Parakeet Auklets used to be placed on its own in the genus Cyclorrhynchus (Kaup, 1829) but recent morphological and genetic evidence suggest it should be placed in the genus Aethia, making them closely related to crested auklets and least auklets.
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    Cornell Species Account
    A distinctive little seabird with a nearly circular bill. The Parakeet Auklet has the widest distribution of all the Alaskan auklets, but it doesn't form large flocks like the others, either at sea or in breeding colonies.
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Cepphus Columba Pallas, 1811, Kamchatka and Bering Strait. Race snowi, having very little or no white in wing (though this character variable), sometimes considered a separate species. Races adiantus and eureka sometimes included in nominate. Five subspecies recognized.
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    IUCN Species Status
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    Species Account
    The pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba) is a species of bird in the auk family, Alcidae. It is endemic to the Pacific Ocean. It closely resembles the other members of the genus Cepphus, particularly the black guillemot, which is slightly smaller and lacks dark wing lines.
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    Cornell Species Account
    A seabird of the northern Pacific, the Pigeon Guillemot is found along rocky coasts from Alaska to California. It spends more time close to shore than other members of the puffin family.
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    Species Account
    The razorbill (Alca torda) is a colonial seabird that only comes to land in order to breed. This agile bird chooses one partner for life; females lay one egg per year.
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    IUCN Species Status
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    RSPB Species Account
    Species profile with image and UK distribution
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca Torda Linnaeus, 1758, Stora Karlsö, Baltic Sea.Populations of E Canada, W Greenland, Norway and Murmansk described as race pica, having additional furrow on upper mandible, but this characteristic now known to be age-related; included in nominate. Proposed form britannica (Britain) synonymized with islandica. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Razorbill Alca torda

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLufe species profile
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca monocerata Pallas, 1811, Cape St Elias, Alaska, USA. Monotypic.
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    IUCN Species Status
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    Species Account
    The rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) is a seabird and a close relative of the puffins. It is the only extant species of the genus Cerorhinca. Given its close relationship with the puffins, the common name rhinoceros puffin has been proposed for the species.
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    Cornell Species Account
    Named for the vertical white plate at the base of its bill, the Rhinoceros Auklet is a bird of the coastlines and open seas of the north Pacific. The only member of its genus, it is closely related to puffins.
  • Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Synthliboramphus hypoleucus scrippsi Green and Arnold, 1939, Anacapa Island, California.
  • Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi

    IUCN Species Status
  • Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi

    Species Account
    Scripps's murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi) is a small seabird found in the California Current system in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

    Species Account
    The spectacled guillemot or sooty guillemot (Cepphus carbo) is a seabird in the auk family.
  • Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

    IUCN Species Status
  • Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Cepphus Carbo Pallas, 1811, Kuril Islands. Monotypic.
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    IUCN Species Status
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    Species Account
    The tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata), also known as crested puffin, is a relatively abundant medium-sized pelagic seabird in the auk family (Alcidae) found throughout the North Pacific Ocean. It is one of three species of puffin that make up the genus Fratercula and is easily recognizable by its thick red bill and yellow tufts.
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    Cornell Species Account
    The Tufted Puffin is a seabird of the open waters, islands, and coastal cliffs of the north Pacific. It is larger than other puffin species and distinctive in appearance, with a bold white "face-mask" and golden head plumes in the breeding season.
  • Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea

    Species Account
    The whiskered auklet (Aethia pygmaea) is a small seabird of the auk family. It has a more restricted range than other members of its genus, Aethia, living only around the Aleutian Islands and on some islands off Siberia (like Commander Islands), and breeding on these islands. It is one of the smallest alcids, only the closely related least auklet being smaller. Its name is derived from the long white feathers on its face that are part of its breeding plumage.
  • Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Alca pygmæa J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Bering Sea.Analysis of mtDNA suggests that present species and A. cristatella form a clade, with A. psittacula a close relative of the two. Birds from Kuril Is were separated as race camtschatica on basis of different body size, but recent studies confirm existence only of simple clinal variation, size increasing from E to W. Monotypic.
  • Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea

    IUCN Species Status
  • Whiskered Auklet Aethia pygmaea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

    BirdLife Species Account
    Species account
  • Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Brachyramphus hypoleucus Xántus, 1860, Cape San Lucas, Baja California.
  • Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

    Species Account
    Guadalupe murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) is a small seabird found in the California Current system in the Pacific Ocean. This auk breeds on islands off California and Mexico.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 24

Useful Reading
Organisations
  • Japanese Alcid Society

    Website
    For those who don't know
  • Project Puffin

    Website
    The National Audubon Society started Project Puffin in 1973 in an effort to learn how to restore puffins to historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine. At that time, literally all the puffin eggs in Maine were in two baskets - Matinicus Rock and Machias Seal Island. Although puffins are not an endangered species (they are abundant in Newfoundland, Iceland, and Britain); they are rare in Maine. The two surviving colonies were very vulnerable to a disaster such as an oil spill, or accidental establishment of predators such as rats or mink
  • Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association

    Facebook Page
    SOSSA was founded by members of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group (NSWASG) in 1994. It was set up to be an umbrella organisation for many study groups concerned with studies of Southern Ocean bio-diversity. SOSSA is a wildlife research and conservation group which consists of dedicated people both professional and amateur. These people share a common interest and concern for the environment and the wildlife of the Southern Oceans…
  • The Seabird Group

    Website
    The Seabird Group, a registered charity, was founded in 1966 to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds
Other Links
  • Great Auk

    Website
    Large breeding colonies of this flightless, penguin-like sea bird once gathered on rocky islands and coasts of the North Atlantic in Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, and Scandinavia. A strong swimmer, the great auk wintered as far south as Florida and southern Spain…
  • Japanese Murrelet song

    Website
    Sonogram
Photographers & Artists
  • Ancient Murrelet Synthlibormaphus antiquus

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Atlantic [Common] Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Gallery
    Excellent images
  • Atlantic [Common] Puffin Fratercula arctica

    Gallery
    Several Brilliant images
  • Brunnich's Guillemot [Thick-Billed Murre] Uria lomvia

    Gallery
    Very crisp image
  • Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

    Gallery
    Image
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Gallery
    Brilliant images
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Gallery
    Superb image
  • Common [Murre] Guillemot Uria aalge

    Gallery
    Excellent [in-flight] image
  • Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri

    Gallery
    Excellent image of juvenile
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Gallery
    Good image
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Gallery
    Good image
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Gallery
    Very good image
  • Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

    Gallery
    Excellent images
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Gallery
    Brilliant image
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Gallery
    Brilliant image
  • Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata

    Gallery
    Superb images - some in flight
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Gallery
    Excellent images
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Least Auklet Aethia pusilla

    Gallery
    Images
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    Wiki
    The parakeet auklet (Aethia psittacula) is a small seabird of the North Pacific. Parakeet Auklets used to be placed on its own in the genus Cyclorrhynchus (Kaup, 1829) but recent morphological and genetic evidence suggest it should be placed in the genus Aethia, making them closely related to crested auklets and least auklets. It is associated with the boreal waters of Alaska, Kamchatka and Siberia. It breeds on the cliffs, slopes and boulder fields of offshore islands, generally moving south during the winter...
  • Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

    Gallery
    Excellent images
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    Gallery
    Image
  • Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

    Gallery
    Image at sea
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    Gallery
    Excellent image
  • Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata

    Gallery
    Excellent images

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