Little Auk

Little Auk

Key facts

Scientific name: Alle alle
Status: Rare winter visitor

UK passage: Unavailable

Conservation status: Green

Family: Auks

Length: 17 – 19 cm
Wingspan: 40 – 48 cm
Weight: 140 – 170 g


In breeding plumage, little auks have black upperparts with white edges on the wings. The upper breast is black, the belly is white, and the tail and underwings are dark.

The head is black, the conical bill is black, the eyes are black with a white crescent above, and the legs and webbed feet are dull pink.

Out of breeding plumage, the upperparts are black, and the underparts and tail coverts are white. On the head, the throat and cheeks are greyish white, while the rest of the head and neck collar are dark. Male and females look similar but the male is slightly larger.

Juvenile little auks resemble the adults in non-breeding plumage but are darker overall.


Little auks breed from late February to early May. They are monogamous and produce 1 brood a season. The nest in large colonies in rock crevices or under rocks on coasts or mountain slopes. No nesting material is added to the site.

Little auks lay one smooth, pale blue egg which is incubated by the male and female who take it in turns 4 times a day. Chicks are covered in dark brown down with paler down on the belly. They are fed by both parents and fledge at 26-30 days.


Little auks feed mainly on crustaceans and zooplankton, as well as small fishes and invertebrates.

Little Auk

Where to see them

Little auks can be seen in the UK between late October and February. In autumn, they can be found around the coasts of eastern Scotland and England, and wintering birds can be seen off the northern coasts.


Fernand DEROUSSEN/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Little auks are silent when at sea, but at breeding colonies produce twittering and cackle-like calls.

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