Dovekie is a tiny member of the Auk family, standing only 8 inches tall but
wearing the same basic black-and-white plumage pattern of some of the larger
Auk species. They are sometimes called "Little Auks". Despite
their small size, they nest furthern north than any of the Auk species, with
huge numbers nesting in traditional nesting sites like those in northwestern
Greenland. Small colonies can be found in a very few spots off the
coast of western Alaska and northeastern Canada. Even during the
winter months, most Dovekie stay in the far north, where they can often be
found around the edge of the pack ice. Small numbers can occasionally
be found southward along the Atlantic Coast in winter, and more rarely,
storm events may blow small numbers inland.
Habitat: Found on rocky coastlines and islands
during the summer breeding season, in the far northern Arctic. In
other seasons, found in cold ocean waters, often at the very edge of the
pack ice, and often far out to sea.
Diet: Feeds heavily on small crustaceans such as
amphipods and copepods. Also will occasionally feed on small fish,
marine worms, and mollusks.
Behavior: Feeds by diving and swimming underwater.
Not a deep diver, with most foraging occurring relatively close to the
Nesting: The nest of a Doviekie is a simple layer
of pebbles lined with lichens, placed in a crack or crevice on a cliff face
or on a rocky slope. The female lays a single egg, and both parents
take turns incubating it. Upon hatching, both parents help to feed the
Song: Has a high screeching trill call that rises
and falls in pitch. Otherwise, generally silent.
Migration: Breeds in very far north Arctic
locations, with northwestern Greenland having the biggest nesting
populations in the Western Hemisphere. Large numbers remain in the far north
as long as open water is available. Small numbers may stray as far
south as New England (and rarely further) in the winter.
Similar Species: If seen well, unlikely to be
confused with another species within its range, due to its small size and
unique features compared to other auk species.