Conservation status Very difficult to census, so trends in population hard to detect. Undoubtedly has declined on some islands following introduction of foxes or rats. Accidental introduction of rats to more islands is potential threat.
Family Auks, Murres, Puffins
Habitat Ocean; nests on sea cliffs. Found in cold ocean waters in summer, but may move into more temperate seas in winter. Apparently mostly very far from land in mid-ocean when not breeding. Nests on rocky islands around cliffs, pinnacles, talus slopes.
A small swimming and diving seabird, summering in the Bering Sea and south coastal Alaska. Usually in pairs or small groups, not large flocks. Often nests on same islands with Crested and Least auklets, but is usually less abundant. Little known in winter, when it may disperse far out in the middle of the North Pacific.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by diving from surface and swimming underwater, or may forage while swimming at surface.


One. Whitish to pale blue. Incubation is by both sexes, about 36 days. Young: both parents feed young, bringing food to nest in throat pouch. Young leaves nest and goes to sea about 5 weeks after hatching.


both parents feed young, bringing food to nest in throat pouch. Young leaves nest and goes to sea about 5 weeks after hatching.


Mainly jellyfish, also crustaceans. At least in summer, apparently specializes on jellyfish and other gelatinous creatures; odd bill shape may be adapted to handling such slippery prey. Also eats crustaceans, including euphausiid shrimp and amphipods, and some small fish.


Breeds in isolated pairs or loose colonies, not so densely packed as Crested or Least auklets, but often near those species. Adults arrive in vicinity of colonies 4-6 weeks before egg-laying begins. Nest site is in deeply cracked or decomposed cliff, ridge, rocky outcrop, or in talus slope partly covered with vegetation. Thus often in places where rock is mixed with soil, not pure rock as in Crested Auklet. Nest is in deep crevice; no nest material added, egg laid on bare soil or rock.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Apparently disperses widely in North Pacific in winter. Reaches waters as far south as California, but irregularly, perhaps more often in the past. Perhaps more regular in occurrence very far offshore. A number of strays have reached the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. One once turned up on a lake in Sweden, half a world away from its normal range.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

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Songs and Calls

Generally silent, clear whistles in breeding colonies.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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