Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birds of St Paul: Crested Auklet

The third auklet species on St Paul and the most flamboyantly attired is the Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella). The Crested breed on the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands and prefer to spend their winters just off shore.

These auklets exhibit a behavior that is unique in birds. They rub each other with a citrus-like scent secreted in feathers on their back. This behavior is called alloanointing and while common in mammals, it has only been documents in Crested Auklets. It's thought that this behavior might help to ward off parasites.

The crested Auklet lays one egg and both parents help to incubate. They eat plankton and small crustaceans. A small pouch under the birds tongue helps them transport the plankton to their chicks.


Richard Wong said...

You got some really great wildlife images, Rebecca. Sounds like a productive trip for sure.

Rebecca Jackrel said...

Thanks Richard! I was worried going into it. I tend to stay away from big 'photographic tours' especially when dealing with wildlife. I was pleasantly surprised to find how well the group dispersed which allowed for more quiet one-on-one interaction with the birds. St Paul isn't set up to handle individual tourists, no rental car companies and the rookeries are too far apart to hike back and forth so a group is necessary. Greg Downing and Alan Murphy made a good team and I can highly recommend traveling with them.