WatchList Species Account for Whiskered Auklet
(Aethea pygmaea)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: Glen Tepke
Photo: Glen Tepke

The tiny, distinctive, Whiskered Auklet is one of North America's rarest alcids. The species occurs on an arc of islands in the North Pacific, from the Aleutians in the east through the Kuril Islands of eastern Russia. It winters in the seas around the islands where it nests in loose colonies in rocky crevices. Much of its nesting habitat is inaccessible and thus protected. Activity around nest sites is almost entirely nocturnal, presumably to avoid avian predation.


The Whiskered Auklet forages at sea, often in near-shore areas, for marine zooplankton. Population trends are unknown, though it is a locally common breeder in the Aleutians. Recent estimates are 24,000 individuals.


This auklet is vulnerable to predation by introduced arctic foxes and Norway rats; removal of these predators from breeding islands is a priority in conserving the species. It is attracted to lights, and many have been killed in incidents involving lighted fishing vessels. Oil spills are also a threat.


In general, however, current conditions are not threatening in the remote habitat of the Whiskered Auklet.