Crested Auklet (aethia cristatella)

Crested Auklet

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Alcidae | [latin] aethia cristatella | [UK] Crested Auklet | [FR] Starique cristatelle | [DE] Schopfalk | [ES] Mergulo Empenachado | [NL] Kuifalk


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Cerorhinca cristatella
Aethia cristatella EU, NA n Pacific coasts n PO

Physical charateristics

A droll auklet of the Bering Sea. Completely slate gray, darker on back; a thin white plume behind the eye. In summer, develops a fleshy gape on its stubby bright orange bill and a curious crest that curls forward
over the bill. In winter, the orange gape on the bill is lost and the crest is shorter.

Listen to the sound of Crested Auklet

[audio: Auklet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 34 cm wingspan max.: 38 cm
size min.: 22 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 29 days incubation max.: 41 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 35 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Eurasia, North America : North Pacific coasts


Open sea; nests in colonies on sea cliffs.
Often over deep water far from land, but may forage near shore where there is turbulence caused by upwellings, rip currents, or tidal flow in passes between islands. Nests on rocky islands among boulders, talus slopes, lava flows, cliffs with many openin
gs and crevices.


First breeds at age of 3 years or older. In courtship, male puffs out chest, points bill up, and makes honking sounds; female approaches, and pair engages in bill-touching, preening each other’s neck feathers, intertwining necks.
Nest: Site is in deep crevice in cliff or among boulders, may be several feet below surface of rock pile. Nest is shallow depression in soil or pebbles at bottom of crevice.
Eggs: 1. White, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by both sexes, 29-40 days, usually about 34.
Young: Both parents feed young (although female may do more), bringing back food in throat pouch. Young are noisy, making peeping sounds when parents present and whistling when they are absent. Age at first flight 27-
36 days; young come out of nest for a few days before to exercise wings.

Feeding habits

Mostly small crustaceans. Diet not well known, but includes many small crustaceans that occur in swarms (especially euphausiid shrimp and copepods), also probably small numbers of fish and squid.
Behavior: Forages by diving and swimming underwater, propelled by wings, using feet for steering. Underwater behavior poorly known, but maximum dive depth thought to be about 100′ below surface. Often forages in flocks.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Crested Auklet status Least Concern


Bering Sea, northeastern Asia, western Alaska.
Undoubtedly migrates from northern colonies, which become surrounded in winter by solid ice. Winters regularly around Kodiak Island, Alaska, outside known breeding range, and Siberian birds winter to northern Japan. Has strayed to British Columbia.

Distribution map

Crested Auklet distribution range map

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