great auk

(redirected from great auks)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to great auks: aurochs, Pinguinus

great auk:

see aukauk
, 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
..... Click the link for more information.

Great Auk


(Pinguinus impennis), extinct flightless bird of the Alcidae family, close to the modern auk. Its body was up to 70 cm long; its wings were small and well-suited to paddling under water. It fed on fish.

The auk inhabited the Atlantic coast of Europe, North America, and Iceland. In the winter it apparently reached Florida and the Mediterranean Sea. It was hunted for its palatable meat, and in the 19th century it was completely destroyed. The last pair of great auks was killed in 1844 on the island of Elde, near Iceland.

great auk

hunters killed such large numbers, these birds became extinct in 1840s. [Ecology: Hammond, 290]

great auk

a large flightless auk, Pinguinus impennis, extinct since the middle of the 19th century
References in periodicals archive ?
McGrain was honoured to learn from locals that the poem used to navigate through Joe Batt's Arm was changed to recognize the new Great Auk sculpture--a testament, he feels, to how the bird has been reborn in the island's lore.
The Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1917, one of Canada's oldest conservation laws, came too late to save the great auk.
The bodies of the great auks were not only eaten but used as bait in fishing.
The few remaining birds took refuge on a neighboring island, Eldey, which was soon visited regularly by fishermen who caught great auks for collectors and European and American museums.
The true northern penguin, the great auk (family Alcidae), was also flightless, a member of the Charadriiformes related to gulls, auks, and lapwings.
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.
There used to be penguins in the Arctic but the last ones, the great auks, went extinct in the 19th century [see the insert "The Last Penguins," page 130].