Least Auklet: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Amazing least auklet facts that are interesting and fun to learn

The least auklet (Aethia pusilla) is a sparrow-sized diminutive bird from the family Alcidae. It lives in various nearby areas of the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea Islands. They have a low body weight compared to other seabirds. As one of the most common birds of North America, it survives abundantly in this region. Many gigantic flocks are often seen whirling near breeding colonies. Non-breeding birds have white plumage on their underparts, but in the mating season, the least auklets show a spectrum of colors on their plumage. The migration of these birds is very short and mostly done for reproduction purposes.

During the breeding season, the least auk birds build their nests on the islands in the North Pacific ocean. However, in the non-breeding season, they can be seen at various seashores. Their diet includes small crustaceans, amphipods, and other sea creatures. Due to their small size, the least auklet birds cannot dive as deep as other auks. As a very sociable bird species, they form breeding colonies with other auk species. On breeding grounds, the Aethia pusilla emits a variety of calls, such as high-pitched trilling, fine chattering, and squeaky grating calls.

To know more about other bird species, you may also check out interesting facts about palm warbler and ovenbird.

Least auklet facts

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Zooplanktons, copepods, and decapod larvae

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

3 oz (86 g)

How long are they?

6.6 in (16.7 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

White and black

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Oil spills and invasive species

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Tropical grassland and savanna


Northern Islands, North America, and Bering sea





Scientific Name

Aethia pusilla





Least Auklet Interesting Facts

What type of animal is the least auklet?

This bird species is a type of seabirds and one of the most abundant birds in the world.

What class of animal does a least auklet belong to?

The auklet belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many least auklets are there in the world?

There are around nine million least auklets birds on earth, although the population is declining continuously due to the hazards associated with them.

Where does the least auklet live?

The Aethia pusilla seabirds are native to Japan, Russia, and United States. They prefer habitats in tropical grassland, savanna, woodlands, and islands, along with places with abundant waters. They have also been seen in Canada too. They reproduce on the Islands of Alaska and Siberia and overwintered to the edge of the ice sheet. The majority of the population live on St. Lawrence Island, Aleutian Island, and the little Diomede Island. They live in colonies of up to one million, which can be seen in the Bering Sea and Okhotsk sea. The least auklet range map can be observed mostly in the United States.

What is a least auklet's habitat?

The least auk species, as a seabird favors areas with temperate water, upsurges, tide rips, polar, or saltwater. Various aquatic habitats include coastlines and pelagic waters. Alternatively, different terrestrial biomes include talus slopes, cliffs, and rock crevices. Although, the land habitats are occupied mostly in the breeding season. They live on crevices and build nest sites made with twigs, dry grass, or anything they can find, in rocky crevices. The least auklet, at sea, is found in large colonies and nesting areas.

Who do least auklets live with?

As a highly colonial seabird, the least auks live in colonies of up to a million birds in different settings. These colonies consist of miscellaneous birds. The coexistence has many advantages, such as protection of predators, but also consists of various disadvantages. For instance, the larger crested auks are known for the displacement of least auklets eggs from their nesting sites.  

How long does a least auklet live?

The average lifespan of Aethia pusilla is about 4.5 years.

How do they reproduce?

The least auklets are monogamous bird species that breed in large colonies. Every colony has a different size but it can reach up to 100,000 breeding pairs. Nests are found on various breeding grounds, such as offshore islands, cracks in coastal cliffs, rocky coasts, and coastal scree. Some nests that are concealed under rocks are usually reutilized in upcoming years. The least auklets take three or more years to breed for the first time in their life. The laying season ranges between June and August. Females lay only one egg at a time. Both the male and female parents perform incubation duties together. The feeding duties are also done by both the parents. Hatching of a black downy chick occurs after the incubation period of about one month. Unlike other auklet chicks, which eat fish, the least auklet (Aethia pusilla) parents feed zooplankton and copepods from the throat pouch to their chicks. After fledging from the nest, there is no parental care for them.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN list of threatened species, the conservation status of this bird is of Least Concern. But they are vulnerable to oil spills and many introduced species, such as pigs, rats, and Arctic foxes. The population size of Aethia pusilla is extensive in the world, but it is still declining rapidly.

Least Auklet Fun Facts

What do least auklets look like?

The Aethia pusilla is the most diminutive member of the auk family, weighing nearly 3 oz (86 g), with a length of about 6.6 in (16.7 cm). The adult has brown to black plumage on the back and a black, white, or spotted breast. It also has black webbed feet. The color of the eyes is yellow. Both males and females have a colorful bill, white, facial plumes, black and brown wings, a throat pouch, and horny knob ornaments. These birds are often confused with the Cassin auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) as they look similar. However, the Ptychoramphus aleuticus is much darker than the least auklet.

Least auklets have black and white feathers, and are small in size.

How cute are they?

With a sturdy body, black and white plumages, the least auklet (Aethia pusilla) species look adorable. That is why people like to keep them as pets.

How do they communicate?

An adult auklet communicates through four different types of vocalizations, which include chirp, chirr buzz, chatter, and deep chatter. These birds are very vocal during the breeding season and steadily rock their heads when changing notes.

How big is the least auklet?

The length of Aethia pusilla, which is a sparrow size bird, is around 6.6 in (16.7 cm), which is four times bigger than the savannah sparrow.

How fast can a least auklet fly?

The flying speed of the least auklet (Aethia pusilla) is unknown. Although, this bird can fly both in the air and aqua pool. As a pursuit diver, it uses its wings to give thrust and fly under the water.

How much does a least auklet weigh?

The least auklet weight of this bird species ranges between 2.8-3 oz (80-86 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female least auklets have no specific name, separately.

What would you call a baby least auklet?

The least auklet (Aethia pusilla) baby is simply known as a chick.

What do they eat?

The diet of the least auk species includes copepods, pteropods, and krill. They forage these species in stratified waters because various oceanic phenomena, such as upwelling and thermoclines clump together these prey items. Like all other auks, least auklets are great pursuit divers that utilize their wings to give thrust and fly under the water. They eat nearly 86% of their body weight in a day. Baby birds cannot hunt, so their parents feed them with the help of a throat pouch. While other auks give their chicks fish from the beak, these birds feed their offspring with krill, copepods, and other zooplanktons.

Are they poisonous?

No, least auklets are not poisonous birds.

Would they make a good pet?

The least auklets are non-dangerous and cute animals, they would make a great pet. However, as they live in colonies and prefer wet and cold regions, it will be very difficult to keep them in less cold regions. Additionally, as a carnivore, they eat zooplankton which is not available in every place. So, it is important to take these things into consideration before keeping them as pets.

Did you know...

The Aethia pusilla is also known as a knob-billed auklet. Also, the flock of auks has many names, such as colony, raft, and loomery of auks.

Those who love to watch birds can refer to different bird guides from experts.

This bird has been observed, studied, and included in the journal 'The Birds of North America', by Jones l 1993, A. Poole and F Gill, from the Academy of Natural Sciences, Washington D.C.

Are least auklets endangered?

No, the Aethia pusilla is not an endangered species. But they are in continuous danger from oil spills, introduced species, including pigs and rats. When arctic foxes were introduced to the Aleutian Islands, it resulted in the extermination of the least auks on many of those islands. Currently, they are still a common species of birds due to their large populations on the planet earth.

How did least auklets get their name?

The least comes from the fact that they are the smallest of all the auk family members. However, auklet has been derived from Icelandic 'alka', which itself derived from a Proto-Germanic 'alko', meaning seabird.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our falcon facts and blue-winged teal facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Least auklet coloring pages.



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