Family Auks (Alcidae)

Least Concern

Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella)


French: Starique cristatelle German: Schopfalk Spanish: Mérgulo empenachado

Alca cristatella


, 1769,

Hokkaido to Kamchatka


Analysis of nuclear DNA suggests may be sister to A. psittacula, whereas analysis of mtDNA suggests that present species and A. pygmaea form a clade, with A. psittacula a close relative of the two#R. Monotypic.


Chukotskiy Peninsula S through Diomede Is to N Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin and Kuril Is, and W Alaska S through St Lawrence I, St Matthew I and Pribilofs to Aleutians E to Shumagin Is. Winters at sea and along coasts in Bering Sea, often near breeding areas with open water, S to Gulf of Alaska and N Japan.

Descriptive notes

18–20 cm; c. 260 g; wingspan 40–50 cm. Distinctive forward-coiled ornamental facial plumes and crest, striking bright reddish orange and yellow-tipped bill,... read more


Generally silent at sea. At breeding colonies, quite noisy, with several vocalizations given either... read more


Offshore and along sea coasts. Breeds on remote islands and coasts, utilizing scree slopes, boulder... read more

Food and feeding

Forages mainly offshore in deep water, sometimes in near-shore regions, almost always in large flocks throughout year. Adult diet during... read more


Spring arrival March–May, with colony attendance from late April (Aleutians), early May (Pribilofs), late May (St Matthew I) or early... read more


Migratory movements are incompletely known. A northward movement into the Chukchi Sea, north of the... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Breeding population size unknown, but the North American population has been estimated at c. 3,000,000 individuals (roughly 2,100,000... read more

Recommended citation

Nettleship, D.N., Boesman, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 March 2019).