Dovekie or Little Auk

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Common Name: Dovekie or Little Auk>br> Scientific Name: Alle alle

Size: 8½ inches (19-21 cm)

Habitat: North Atlantic and Arctic: It breeds along high arctic coasts (Iceland and Greenland) and only makes its way southward in winter as far as New England. Also a rare visitor on the coasts of the British Islands and it has been reported as common as far to the northward as Spitzbergen.

Status: Not threatened. Large numbers of Little Auks have been killed in several oil-spill incidents, but climate changes (such as global warming happen) in Southern Greenland and Iceland seems to be the reason for the decreasing populations there.

Diet: Small fish, crustacea and mollusks, especially copepods. They collect in large groups before heading out to sea for food. They also gather into large groups as they return. Dovekies dive underwater to capture their prey, using their wings to swim. Dovekies may play the part of scavenger, cleaning up remains of the kill a Polar Bear made.

Nesting: Non-breeding Adults and Juveniles have a white throat and upper breast with a whitish crescent on side of neck. Breeding Adults are black with a white breast.

Dovekies nest in large colonies. The Dovekie builds a simple nest, a bed of pebbles in crevice amongst boulder field or in the crevices of rocky cliffs, bordering the sea coast. It lays one or two bluish white eggs which are about the size of the pigeons.

Cool Facts: The Dovekie is generally silent at sea; bull makes a high trilling call at the nesting colony. Their flight is direct, with fast whirring wing beats due to the short wings. There are two subspecies: Alle alle alle breeds in Greenland, Iceland, Novaya Zemlya and Spitsbergen, and Alle alle polaris on Franz Josef Land.

The Dovekie breeding population at Thule in northwestern Greenland is amongst largest and densest breeding aggregations of all auks. This population traditionally has been estimated as 30 million birds.

Dovekies sometimes show up out of range along the east coast of North America in massive wrecks of stranded, starving birds. Sustained, strong easterly winds may make feeding conditions unsuitable and push the weakened, emaciated birds landward. The largest recorded wreck in North America, in the winter of 1932 -1933, saw Dovekies raining down on the streets of New York City and large numbers washing up along the entire eastern seaboard, from Nova Scotia to Florida.

The Glaucous Gull and the Arctic Fox are the main predators on Little Auks, and, in some cases, the Polar Bear has also been reported to feed on their eggs.

Found in Songbird ReMix Puffins

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