Least auklet

One of the most abundant birds in the world, which can eat up to 90% of its body weight in a day

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

The diminutive Least Auklet, measuring a mere 15 cm (6 inches) in length, holds the title of the smallest member of the auklet family. Despite its petite stature, this remarkable seabird boasts a range that spans Alaska’s isolated islands and coastal beaches, where it comes ashore exclusively to breed. During the winter months, the Least Auklet retreats to the open waters of the North Pacific, where it joins vast flocks of its fellow seabirds in search of food and favorable foraging grounds.

Feeding primarily on copepods, Neocalanus plumbers, and other tiny crustaceans, both adults and chicks of the Least Auklet display remarkable feeding behaviors during the breeding season. Adult auklets utilize a unique sublingual pouch to transport their prey, allowing them to efficiently gather and transport food to their hungry offspring. Diving from the water’s surface, the Least Auklet employs its agile wings to propel itself underwater, navigating the depths in search of its next meal with impressive precision and agility.

Despite its diminutive size, the Least Auklet is a voracious eater and ranks among the world’s most abundant seabirds. However, like many marine species, it faces a myriad of threats to its survival, including historical hunting and egging, habitat degradation caused by human activities, the introduction of invasive predators to its breeding colonies, disturbances from human presence, and the pervasive impacts of maritime pollution. Despite these challenges, the Least Auklet persists and remains reasonably widespread throughout its range, a testament to its adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Canada
2020
Non-Breeding
Japan
2020
Non-Breeding
Russia
2020
Eastern Asian Russia
United States
2020

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic (size)

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No