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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella

The north Pacific is home to more species of auks than anywhere else. The crested auklet is a typical example, with a compact body, sooty-gray plumage, and a feathery crest that curves forward from its forehead over its orange-red bill. Like other auks, it flies low on rapidly whirring wings and feeds in flocks so dense that they resemble swarms of insects wheeling over the water. Crested auklets breed among fallen rocks on island coasts, in colonies containing thousands of birds. Their courtship displays are energetic and noisy, as they throw back their heads and make loud grunts and trumpeting sounds. When the breeding season is over, crested auklets disperse out to sea and spend the winter as far south as Japan.

Crested Aukletzoom image
  • Order Charadriiformes
  • Length 9–10 in (24–27 cm)
  • Weight 9 oz (250 g)
  • Habitat Inshore waters, rocky coasts, open sea
  • Distribution North Pacific, breeding mainly in the Aleutian Islands and islands in Bering Sea
Crested Auklet habitat mapzoom image