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Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus


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Cassin's Auklet
credit: Sabine's Sunbird/CCSA

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Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family

Description ADULT Has smoky blue-gray plumage overall, darkest on head, back, and upper wings, and palest below (white belly is seen in flight). Eye has pale, yellowish iris and white "eyelids." Bill is relatively narrow and pointed, mostly dark, but with a pale base. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but with darker, duller eye color.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Very locally common, breeding on isolated islands. Nests in burrows and under boulders, with activity at colonies taking place after dark. Suffers badly from introduced ground predators, but local extinction of these is helping redress balance.

Observation Tips Hard to observe except at sea because of nocturnal habits at breeding colonies (which are themselves hard to access) and pelagic, offshore life outside breeding season.

Range California, Northwest, Alaska, Southeast

Voice Vocal, after dark, uttering hissing screeches.

Discussion Dumpy seabird. Looks short-necked when swimming. Often dives or paddles away (rather than flies) from boats. Sexes are similar.