auk

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auk

(ôk), common name for a member of the family Alcidae (alcid family), swimming and diving birds of the N Atlantic and Pacific, which includes the guillemots and puffins. Their legs are set far back on their bodies, making them clumsy on land, where they seldom venture except to nest. The extinct, flightless great auk, Pinguinus impennis, or garefowl, represents the largest species. It was about the size of a goose, black above and grayish white below, and was formerly abundant in the N Atlantic. Slaughtered in its breeding grounds for its flesh, feathers, and oil, it became extinct c.1844. The least auklet (about 6 1-2 in./16.3 cm), common in the Bering Sea region, is the smallest of the family, and the razor-billed auk, Alca torda (16–18 in./40–45 cm), is the largest surviving member. The Eskimos hunt the dovekie (Plautus alle), or little auk, for food and use its feathered skin for clothing. Auks return to the same breeding grounds every year, and each individual goes to the very same nesting site. The single egg is laid on bare rock on cliff ledges, and incubation duties are shared by both parents. Auks are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Alcidae.

auk

[ȯk]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several large, short-necked diving birds (Alca) of the family Alcidae found along North Atlantic coasts.

auk

1. any of various diving birds of the family Alcidae of northern oceans having a heavy body, short tail, narrow wings, and a black-and-white plumage: order Charadriiformes
2. little auk a small short-billed auk, Plautus alle, abundant in Arctic regions
References in periodicals archive ?
Little auks live in the Arctic where they feed on planktonic crustaceans.
But three days later the new record was smashed with 29,000 Little Auks recorded around the islands last Sunday.
In fact, Baillie's dedication to the museum concept drove him to what he felt was the most rewarding accomplishment of his entire career: acquiring Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) and Labrador Duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius) specimens for the ROM.
Because of the similarity, we had not questioned Breuil's 1912 remarks on the El Pendo engravings (later in Breuil 1952: 348) in calling one of the birds a pingouin, is a name we knew was usually but not always translated as Garefowl or Great Auk; and the bones of Great Auks are known from chronologically compatible Upper Palaeolithic levels.
Soon great auks became a favorite food of New World sailors, who sometimes stretched a spare sail from ship to shore and simply herded the birds into an on-board butcher shop.
Although the bill is used in territorial disputes among colonially nesting alcids, it is more akin to squabbling than combat D'Errico also states: 'In the second half of the breeding season there would be new nests to rob', implying that there was an extended period when the auks were available for harvesting.
WARMING high above the frozen sea, a flock of little auks flee from a hungry predator below.
The birds, which used their wings to swim with, were related to puffins, guillemots and little auks, with eggs a little larger than that of a goose or razorbill.
Birds which passed through the islands and created a stir included an unprecedented total of 33 storm petrels in one day and 10,265 little auks logged in one day in November ( a record for Northumberland and just 682 less than the record for the North Sea recorded off Yorkshire 10 years ago.
They are identified as Great Auks, the great and extinct 'penguin' of the northern ocean.
These flocks can occasionally draw in passing little auks - a phenomenon I've never witnessed personally, but I continue to live in hope and always check the tubby black dots as they whizz past on triangular wings.