Alcidae – Auks, murres & puffins
This colorful family lost a member for a good mid-19th century – the great auk
Birds in this family have evolved so successfully for their job as maritime birds that they solely need land for nesting. The length of living species is 6–18 in (12–45 cm), and their weight is 0.17–2.4 lb (0.4–1.1 kg). The tail is also tiny, and the wings are thin and short. The foregoes are webbed, while the rear of the foot has no toe. The Brachyramphus murrelets have brown summer plumage contrasting with their black, white, and grey plumage.
Throughout the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific, and only in the Northern Hemisphere.
Alcids spawn on shorelines, seaside cliffs, islands, and (in a few species) coastal woods and live nearly entirely on the surface of cooler ocean waters.
Genera in this family
Auklets are among some of the most abundantly observed black and white sea birds
Puffins have a close resemblance with penguins, but the colorful beak and ability to fly help in their differentiation
The robust and hardy birds are efficient swimmers and divers, spending most of their lives in the water
The last of these beautifully glossy, black and white birds were hunted in 1844 off the coast of Iceland