Orange-scented oils produced by the Crested Auklet help to protect and condition the small seabird’s feathers while repelling parasites, such as ticks. (Photo: Ryan P. O’Donnell)
In the winter months, the Bering Sea is frigid and hostile to most species, but the Crested Auklet, a petite seabird, calls it home. BirdNote’s ® Mary McCann explains how this whimsical-looking puffin cousin thrives amongst the icy waves.
BIRDNOTE® CRESTED AUKLETS
[MUX - BIRDNOTE® THEME]
CURWOOD: Well, we stay up in the far north for BirdNote® this week and head out to sea with Mary McCann.
[SOUNDS OF WIND AND WAVES]
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.
[WIND AND WAVES. 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.
[CRESTED AUKLETS BARKING]
MCCANN: And to top that off, the seabirds exude an odor of oranges from a chemical they produce that repels bothersome ticks.
MCCANN: Crested Auklets nest in immense colonies on Bering Sea islands, and remain nearby through winter. 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.
[CRESTED AUKLETS BARKING]
MCCANN: I’m Mary McCann.
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  recorded by S. Seneviratne.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org December 2014 Narrator: Mary McCann
CURWOOD: There are pictures of these quirky looking birds at our website, LOE.org.
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