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Crested Auklets Winter in the Bering Sea

A spectacle of sight, sound, and smell!

The Bering Sea in winter, framed as it is by Alaska and Siberia, is frigid, stormy, and dark. But remarkably, some birds seem right at home there. The Crested Auklet is one such bird. And they have some unique qualities. Crested Auklets bark like Chihuahuas. Also, these seabirds exude an odor of oranges from a chemical they produce that repels ticks. They nest in immense colonies on Bering Sea islands, and remain nearby through winter, in flocks of many thousands. The auklets present a superb natural spectacle - sight, sound, and smell!

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Crested Auklets Winter in the Bering Sea

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote. [Wind and waves]

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 and calls from a flock of Crested Auklets] 

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. [Sounds of Crested Auklets barking calls] 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. 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]

Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation. For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann. 

###

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
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org   December 2014  Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# CRAU-01-2012-12-05    CRAU-01       

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

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