Little Auk

Scientific name: Alle alle

Did you know: The Little Auk, a petite seabird, requires about 60,000 copepods daily for sustenance – a massive feast for such a small bird!

What Do Little Auks Look Like? (How to Identify Them)

Little Auks, resembling starlings in size, boast a distinctive black and white plumage. During flight, their dark underwings contrast starkly with their white underparts. 

These birds are notable for their stubby black bill and short neck and tail, giving them a compact appearance. Their rapid wingbeats create a unique visual as they skim low over the sea’s surface.

Differences Between Male and Female Little Auks

Males and females are similar in appearance, both in their summer and winter plumages. However, upon closer inspection, females are slightly smaller and lighter than their male counterparts.

What Do Little Auks Eat?

These seabirds primarily feast on small crustaceans like copepods and amphipods. During winter, their diet diversifies to include more krill, molluscs, and marine worms. Remarkably, Little Auks forage by visually guided suction-feeding rather than filter-feeding.

Where Do Little Auks Live? (Including Migration Info)

Little Auks breed in the high Arctic, with colonies spread across Greenland, Novaya Zemlya, Svalbard, and Franz Josef Land. During winter, they migrate southward to the northern parts of the North Atlantic. 

Occasionally, stormy weather can push them further south or into the North Sea.

Bird Calls & Songs (The Unique Voices of Little Auks)

While silent at sea, Little Auks are quite vocal in their breeding colonies. They produce a range of twitters and cackling calls, using these sounds for communication and as alarm signals.

Fun Little Auk Facts (Kid Friendly)

  • Little Auks can swim underwater to catch their food.
  • They nest in large colonies on cliff sides, often under rocks.
  • These birds are expert flyers, despite their small size and short wings.
  • Little Auks’ winter plumage differs from their summer look, with a more pronounced white face and neck.
  • These birds are known by various names, including ‘dovekies’ and ‘sea doves’.

Little Auk Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Little Auk

Diet: Plankton, other tiny marine creatures and fish.
Bird Family: Auks
Length: 17-19cm
Wingspan: 40-48cm
Weight: 140-170g
Scientific Name: Alle alle

The Little Auk Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • October
  • November
  • December