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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote ® Crested Auklet

Air Date: Week of December 7, 2012

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Crested Auklet, up close! (Photo: © Paul Jones)

Mary McCann reports about the Crested Auklet, which makes its home in the frigid Bering Sea between Alaska and Siberia.

Transcript

CURWOOD: We stay up in the far north, in an equally cold part of the globe - for BirdNote today - but travel over to the other side of the North American continent. Here's Mary McCann.

MCCANN: The Bering Sea in winter is a realm to which most people – aside from some very hardy fishermen – give a wide berth. Winter in this northern sea framed by Alaska and Siberia is frigid, stormy, and dark. But remarkably, some birds seem right at home here. The Crested Auklet is one such bird.


(Photo: © Ryan P. O’Donnell)

[WIND AND WAVES AND CALLS FROM A FLOCK OF CRESTED AUKLETS]

MCCANN: A petite cousin of puffins, the Crested Auklet stands 10 inches high, weighs nine ounces, and is feathered in charcoal gray. This little seabird takes its name from a comical crest curling out over the top of its large, orange bill. If that’s not whimsical enough, Crested Auklets bark like Chihuahuas.


(Photo: © Paul Jones)

[SOUNDS OF CRESTED AUKLETS BARKING CALLS]

MCCANN: And to top that off, the seabirds exude an odor of oranges from a chemical they produce that repels bothersome ticks. Crested Auklets nest in immense colonies on Bering Sea islands, and remain nearby through winter, in flocks of many thousands.

[SOUNDS OF CRESTED AUKLETS BARKING CALLS]

MCCANN: Because the auklets concentrate in huge numbers, they’re at risk from oil spills. The auklets present a superb natural spectacle. Picture a flock of tens of thousands of Crested Auklets flying low across the wave tops, yipping like an army of Chihuahuas... while trailing a perfume of fresh citrus.

[SOUNDS OF CRESTED AUKLETS BARKING CALLS]

MCCANN: I’m Mary McCann

CURWOOD: For some photos of Crested Auklets fly on over to our website, loe dot org. Take a look - what a hairdo!


(Photo: © Paul Jones)

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of Crested Auklets [132013] recorded by S. Seneviratne.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org December 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann

Reference on orange odor/aldehyde: http://aba.org/birding/v37n4p424.pdf

 

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