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Little Auk

Little Auk (Dovekie)

The tiny bird that gathers in enormous colonies

What you need to know about the Little Auk (Dovekie)

Our Expert Says… "These birds are amazing. It's thought that there may be as many as 40 million pairs worldwide. Little auk colonies are often in difficult to access areas on scree slopes, so not all expeditions can visit a colony. But if you get the chance, you must - it's remarkable due to the sheer numbers, the constant aerial movement, and the noise!"

The little auk (also known locally as the dovekie) is well-named! It’s the smallest of the Atlantic auk species, only about half the size of the Atlantic puffin. They are a very numerous bird, breeding in huge colonies on the side of rocky cliffs where they lay their single egg in cracks and crevices on the rocks.

Little auks have fly fast, with their small wings flapping rapidly in a blur of motion as they make their way from the nest to the sea’s surface from where they dive to hunt small crustaceans and sometimes juvenile fish. Like all auks, dovekie use their wings to “fly” underwater as they seek out their prey.

Little auks have a black head and neck, as well as black wings and back. Their underparts are white. They have a very short and stubby bill and a small, round black tail.

If you visit Greenland you could try a local Inuit food called kiviak. It is made by stuffing a seal skin with up to 500 little auks, feathers, beaks, and all, expelling as much air as possible, then sealing it shut with seal fat and leaving it under a heap of stones for three months. During this time, the little auks ferment, becoming a winter food source that is used to celebrate birthdays, weddings or other special occasions.

Little Auk (Dovekie): Pictures & Videos

Little Auk

Spots where the Little Auk (Dovekie) can be observed

Our trips to spot the Little Auk (Dovekie)

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