A little Auk goes a long way

Little Auks are, well, little (19–21 cm in length and weigh just 140 to 190 grams). There are 2 subspecies of Little Auk. Alle alle polaris’ breeding grounds are on Franz Josef Land, while Alle alle alle breeds on Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen, and Novaya Zemlya.

These fast-growing “sea doves” have colonies that sometimes number in the millions The size of these colonies force the birds to forage far afield- sometimes up to 100 km away from their home colony.

Along the way, they fish. Despite their compact size and short wing span, Little Auks can dive to depths of up to 115 feet where they use their natural buoyancy to shoot back upwards through the water in a zig-zag pattern and capture prey.

For more, see Jakubas, D., Iliszko, L., Wojczulanis-Jakubas, K. et al. Foraging by little auks in the distant marginal sea ice zone during the chick-rearing period. Polar Biol (2012) 35: 73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-011-1034-x.