Whiskered Auklet (aethia pygmaea)

Whiskered Auklet

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Alcidae | [latin] aethia pygmaea | [UK] Whiskered Auklet | [FR] Starique pygmee | [DE] Bartalk | [ES] Mergulo bigotudo | [NL] Geoorde Dwergalk


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Similar to the larger Crested Auklet, but in addition to the curled black plume on the forehead this bird has three thin white plumes on each side of the face. In winter the plumes are shorter.

Listen to the sound of Whiskered Auklet

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/Whiskered Auklet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 46 cm wingspan max.: 48 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 19 cm
incubation min.: 35 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 37 days fledging max.: 38 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Eurasia, North America : nc, Northwest Pacific coasts


Ocean, rip currents, rocky coasts.
Usually at sea within a few miles of islands, in relatively shallow water. Favors rough water where currents converge, or where tidal currents race across shallows or through narrow passes between islands. Nests on islands among rocks or cliffs.


Breeds in colonies, not as densely packed as in related small auks. Active at colonies mostly at night, especially when not nesting in association with other species. Courtship behavior not well known, includes pairs calling in duet.
Nest: Sites in small openings in talus slopes, boulder piles, or crevices in cliffs, sometimes in areas of soil mixed with rock. No nest built; egg laid on bare rock or soil.
Eggs: 1. Dull white. Incubation by both sexes, roughly 35-36 days.
Young: Both parents feed young, visiting nests at night, bringing food in throat pouch. Age of young bird at departure from nest not well known, may be about 40 days. Fledgling departs by flying away from nest site at night.

Feeding habits

Small crustaceans. Diet not well known, primarily small crustaceans including copepods, euphausiid shrimp, amphipods; also marine worms, mollusks. May concentrate on copepods in summer, euphausiids in winter.
Behavior: Forages by diving and swimming underwater, undoubtedly propelled by wings like other small auks. Depth of dives unknown, but usually feeds in fairly shallow water.


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 very 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.
Whiskered Auklet status Least Concern


Bering Sea. Resident in Commander Islands, southern Kuriles; locally in central Aleutians. Migration: Apparently permanent resident of waters near its nesting islands.

Distribution map

Whiskered Auklet distribution range map

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