Little Auk or dovekie (Alle alle) Description

Little Auk

The little auk or dovekie scientific name Alle alle is a small auk, the one member of the genus Alle. Alle is the Sami identity of the long-tailed duck; it’s onomatopoeic and imitates the decision of the drake duck. Linnaeus was not notably accustomed to the winter plumages of both the auk or the duck and seems to have confused the 2 species.

Little auk or dovekie facts

The little auk is the smallest of the European auks, and has a stocky construct, with a brief neck and quick invoice.

The little auk is a high-arctic species that breeds on Japanese Baffin Island (Canada), Greenland, Jan Mayen, Svalbard (together with Bjørnøya), Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, and Severnaya Zemlya.

It breeds on islands within the excessive Arctic. There are two subspecies: A. a. alle breeds in Greenland, Novaya Zemlya and Svalbard, and A. a. Polaris on Franz Josef Land.

A small variety of people breed on Little Diomede Island within the Bering Strait with extra breeding people thought to happen on King Island, St. Lawrence Island, St. Matthew Island, and the Pribilof Islands within the Bering Sea.

This species has a really giant vary and therefore doesn’t method the thresholds for Weak underneath the vary measurement criterion (Extent of Prevalence <20,000 km2 mixed with a declining or fluctuating very measurement, habitat extent/high quality, or inhabitants measurement and a small variety of places or extreme fragmentation).

Although the inhabitant’s development seems to be reducing, the decline will not be believed to be sufficiently fast to method the thresholds for Weak underneath the inhabitant’s development criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations).

The inhabitant’s measurement is extraordinarily giant, and therefore doesn’t method the thresholds for Weak underneath the inhabitant’s measurement criterion (<10,000 mature people with an unbroken decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified inhabitants construction).  For these causes, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Morphology and habits

That is the one Atlantic auk of its measurement, half the scale of the Atlantic puffin at 19–21 cm in size, with a 34–38 cm wingspan.

Grownup birds are black on the top, neck, again, and wings, with white underparts. The invoice could be very quick and stubby.

have a small rounded black tail. The decrease face and fore neck turn into white in winter.

The flight is direct, with quick whirring wing beats because of the quick wings. These birds forage for meals like different auks by swimming underwater.

They primarily eat crustaceans, particularly copepods, of which a 150 g hen requires ~60,000 people per day (equal to 30 g of dry meals weight), however, they will additionally eat small invertebrates and fish.

The latest proof means that the little auk feeds not by filter-feeding, however by visually guided suction-feeding.

They feed nearer to the shoreline throughout the nesting season, however when not nesting they scavenge for meals within the open-ocean.

Little auks produce quite a lot of twitters and cackling calls on the breeding colonies, however, they are silent at sea.


Little auks breed in giant colonies on marine cliffsides. They nest in crevices or beneath giant rocks, normally laying only a single egg. They transfer south in winter into northern areas of the North Atlantic.

Late autumn storms could carry them south of their regular wintering areas, or into the North Sea. The species can also be generally discovered within the Norwegian Sea.

The glaucous gull and the Arctic fox are the primary predators on little auks. In some circumstances, the polar bear has additionally been reported to feed on little auk eggs.

Inhabitants justification

The worldwide inhabitants are estimated to quantity c.16,000,000-36,000,000 people. Nonetheless, the European inhabitants alone were just lately estimated at 9,200,000-82,000,000 mature people, subsequently, the worldwide inhabitants are prone to be significantly bigger than the present estimate.

Pattern justification

The inhabitant’s development is reducing in North America (primarily based on BBS/CBC knowledge: Butcher and Niven 2007). The European inhabitant’s development is unknown (BirdLife Worldwide 2015).

Distribution and inhabitants

This species breeds on islands of the excessive Arctic, being discovered on islands within the Bering Sea, from east Baffin Island (Canada), by Greenland (to Denmark), Iceland to Spitsbergen, Bear Island, and the Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway), Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, and Franz Josef Land, Russia. It’s migratory, increasing its vary in winter to incorporate the North Atlantic Ocean as far south because of the United Kingdom and the north-east U.S.A.


This species feeds primarily on small invertebrates comparable to amphipods and euphausiids and on fish larvae.

The exact timing of its spring arrival at breeding colonies is variable relying on locality, from late February on Franz Josef Land to early Could in north-west Greenland.

Immense colonies are fashioned on sea coasts, normally nesting in crevices in rock scree of maritime slopes and on coastal cliffs.

Colonies are deserted in August with people searching for extra southerly waters.


As Little Auks spend a lot of their life at sea, together with at and beneath the ocean floor, they’re weak to each oil spill occasions and power oil air pollution (Fort et al. 2013).

The Newfoundland space is a topic to power oil air pollution, with tens of 1000’s of Little Auks dying on this space yearly (Wiese and Robertson 2004).

The latest monitoring analysis has indicated that vital foraging grounds for the species overlap with increasing oil and gasoline extraction actions and transport, which might result in habitat degradation and species mortality (Fort et al. 2013).

The Little Auk continues to be hunted in Thule throughout its quick interval of presence in the summertime, to type the delicacy Kiviaq, now solely eaten at vital celebrations.

It’s thought that, within the 1990s, annual soak up Greenland was c. 60,000 birds which, because of the world inhabitants numbering over 30 million, will not be thought to trigger vital declines.

There’s additionally proof for mortality as a result of bycatch, nonetheless, estimates for the mixed bycatch of all auk species within the Northeast Atlantic is within the 1000’s (Fangel et al. 2015), so that is unlikely to be inflicting declines.

It has been discovered that Little Auks’ reproductive output and physique situation is unaffected by the retreat of sea-ice, as a result of using bathymetric options for foraging, that means this species shall be largely unaffected by the retreat of sea-ice in response to local weather change.

Additional analysis reveals Little Auks are capable of change to feeding in nutrient-wealthy coastal glacier melt-water in circumstances the place sea-ice is absent, sustaining chick progress however displaying a 4% lower in grownup physique mass (Grémillet et al. 2015).

There’s some dispute as to whether altering seafloor temperature will impact the Little Auk.

It has been discovered that foraging plasticity permits Little Auks to feed on the smaller and fewer lipid-rich copepods present in hotter water with no discount in fledging success or grownup physique situation, though that is considered on the expense of power expenditure on different actions (Grémillet et al. 2012).

In distinction to this, Hovinen et al. (2014) discovered grownup survival to be negatively correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation index and native summertime sea floor temperatures with a time lag of two and 1 years respectively, implying local weather change could have an adverse impact on the Little Auk inhabitants.

little auk

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

The next info refers back to the species European vary solely: The species is listed underneath the African Eurasian Waterbird Settlement.

is among the species thought of throughout the Motion Plan for Seabirds in Western-Nordic Areas (Nordiska Ministerrådet 2010). There are 18 marine Vital Chook Areas throughout the European area for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed

The next info refers back to the species European vary solely: Determine additional vital websites for this species, notably in offshore areas and designate as marine protected areas. Determine the dangers of various actions on seabirds, and places delicate to seabirds.

Handle fisheries to make sure long-run sustainability of key shares. Set up observer schemes for bycatch and put together nationwide plans of motion on seabird bycatch.

Develop codes of conduct for extra organized actions (e.g. tourism). Be sure that acceptable safety (nationwide legal guidelines and worldwide agreements) applies to new areas and occasions in case of adjustments in seabird migration routes and occasions.

Though populations seem like reducing, this isn’t at present considered fast sufficient to be of concern for the species within the medium time period, particularly as world little auk numbers are typically reasonably fluid.

Little auks have been proven to have the ability to buffer fluctuations in prey availability, attributable to local weather change, by way of the plasticity of their foraging habits, which is prone to make correct conservation assessments harder.

As human meals

Kiviaq is an Inuit dish from Greenland. It’s made by stuffing seal pores and skin with 300 to 500 little auks.

As soon as full and hermetic, the pores and skin are sealed with seal fats and the little auks are left to ferment for three to 18 months underneath a pile of rocks.

Caught in spring, little auks are human meals useful resource in winter.

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