Crested Auklets Winter in the Bering Sea

Photograph by Robert Royse

Crested Auklets Winter in the Bering Sea

The auklets present a superb natural spectacle of sight, sound, and smell.

Brought to you by BirdNote®
Published: 12/14/2012

This story comes to you through a partnership between Audubon and BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

The Bering Sea in winter is a realm to which most people - aside from some very hardy fishermen - give a wide berth. Winter in this northern sea framed by Alaska and Siberia is frigid, stormy, and dark. But remarkably, some birds seem right at home here.

The crested auklet is one such bird. 

A petite cousin of puffins, the crested auklet stands 10 inches high, weighs nine ounces, and is feathered in charcoal gray. This little seabird takes its name from a comical crest curling out over the top of its large, orange bill. If that's not whimsical enough, crested auklets bark like chihuahuas. And to top that off, the seabirds exude an odor of oranges from a chemical they produce that repels bothersome ticks.

Crested auklets nest in immense colonies on Bering Sea islands, and remain nearby through winter, in flocks of many thousands. Because the auklets concentrate in huge numbers, they're at risk from oil spills. 

The auklets present a superb natural spectacle. Picture a flock of tens of thousands of crested auklets flying low across the wave tops, yipping like an army of chihuahuas... while trailing a perfume of fresh citrus.

Today's show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation. For BirdNote, I'm Mary McCann. 

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of Crested Auklets [132013] recorded by S.Seneviratne. 
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
(c) 2012 Tune In to   December 2012  Narrator: Mary McCann

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Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine