Crested Auklet

Aethia cristatella

The Crested Auklet is a common breeding species around the south and west sides of the island. Crested’s breed in crevices on cliff faces, and also in rock rubble areas near the base of the cliffs. This species is easily identified by virtue of its all dark body, bright orange bill and large forward facing crest. In flight look for a plump all-dark bird that tends to occur in fairly tight flocks. On the water Crested Auklets will often form tight balls, as they continually chatter their odd vaguely Chihuhua-like calls. Crested Auklets are very common breeders in the Aleutian chain, with some colonies exceeding 4 million individuals. Along with their smaller cousin, the Whiskered Auklet (yet to be recorded in the Pribilofs) they have the distinction of being one of a handful of species of birds with a strong odor. In the hand, or near large colony sights one can detect a very strong citrus-like odor emanating from the Crested Auklets. The chemical responsible for the odor is believed to protect this species from the ravages of bird ticks and other parasites that they are exposed to while on land.