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Dovekie

Alle alle ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: ALCIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, chunky black-and-white bird of the open Atlantic ocean, the Dovekie breeds along high arctic coasts and only makes its way southward in winter as far as New England. It is the smallest of the auks (the Puffin family) in the Atlantic.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
7.5–9.1 in
19–23 cm
Wingspan
15 in
38 cm
Weight
4.7–7.2 oz
134–204 g
Other Names
  • Little Auk (British)
  • Mergule nain (French)
  • Mérgulo marino (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Dovekie breeding population at Thule in northwestern Greenland is the among largest and densest breeding aggregations of all auks. This population traditionally has been estimated as 30 million birds.
  • The Dovekie sometimes shows up out of range along the east coast of North America in massive wrecks of stranded, starving birds. Sustained, strong easterly winds may make feeding conditions unsuitable and push the weakened, emaciated birds landward. The largest recorded wreck in North America, in the winter of 1932 -1933, saw Dovekies raining down on the streets of New York City and large numbers washing up along the entire eastern seaboard, from Nova Scotia to Florida.

Habitat


Ocean

Food


Insects

Marine crustaceans and small fish.

Nesting

Nest Description

Bed of pebbles in crevice amongst boulder field. Nests in large colonies.

Nest Placement

Cliff

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives underwater to capture prey, using its wings to swim.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Although numerous, the Dovekie is difficult to count. No reliable information exists about any trends in populations.

Credits

  • Montevecchi, W. A., and I. J. Stenhouse. 2002. Dovekie (Alle alle). In The Birds of North America, No. 701 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Dovekie Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings