Meet the Crested Auklet

Seabirds of Buldir Island, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit R. Dugan/USFWS

The Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella), is a small, peculiar-looking seabird with a bright orange bill (during breeding season) and an eye-catching crest ornament that falls in front of their face. They breed in colonies on remote islands and coastlines around the Bering Sea in Alaska and winters in flocks on nearby waters.

Facts about the Crested Auklet

  1. Both males and females have crests
  2. They’ll choose mates based on crest size
  3. Their plumage smells vaguely of citrus!
  4. In non-breeding season they live on the open ocean

Impressive Nesting Colonies

During the breeding season, this bird is found only in the Bering Sea and adjacent North Pacific Ocean, and nests in colonies on remote coastlines and islands.

Crested and least auklet colony at Tundering Talus on Kasatochi Island pre-eruption. Photo: Vernon Byrd/USFWS

The colonies range in size from a few hundred to possibly more than a million pairs.

The crested auklet nests on the Aleutian Islands in large colonies sometimes mixed with Least Auklets. Photo: Vernon Byrd/USFWS

Choosing a Nest: Nests are located deep in rock crevices on sea-facing talus slopes, cliffs, boulder fields, and lava flows making it difficult to census them.

Lays One Egg: The female crested auklet usually lays just one egg and it hatches in a little over a month. To feed their hungry newborn chicks, auklet parents store plankton in a pouch under their tongues.

Crested auklets are found on Alaska Peninsula and Becharof national wildlife refuges. Photo Copyright: Cornelius Nelo.

Learn more about the crested auklet >>

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