Marine Wildlife 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.