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Conservation status: Green

The little auk is a small seabird, the size of a starling. It is black above and white below, and in flight it shows dark underwings. It has a black stubby bill, and a short neck and tail. It flies with very fast whirring wingbeats low over the sea. It is a winter visitor to the waters around the UK in small numbers each year. It breeds in the Arctic and winters in the North Atlantic. Some birds enter the North Sea in autumn and large numbers can be seen passing offshore during gales.



Latin name

Alle alle


Auks (Alcidae)

Where to see them

Storms in late autumn can drive large numbers of little auks into the North Sea. Look for them from seawatching places along the coast of eastern Scotland and England in late October and early November. Wintering birds can be seen off the northern coast of the UK.

When to see them

Mainly from late October to February.

What they eat

Plankton, other tiny marine creatures and fish.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*