Least Auklet
Aethia pusilla

1/1250s at f10.0, ISO:2000, Canon EOS-1D X w/800mm

The least auklet is a seabird and the smallest species of auk. It is the most abundant seabird in North America, and one of the most abundant in the world, with a population of around nine million birds. They breed on the islands of Alaska and Siberia. Least auklets are highly colonial, nesting in rocky crevices in colonies of up to a million birds. These colonies are often mixed, with other species of auklets and competing with the least auklets. While this coexistence with other species may bring the benefits of protection from predators, least auklets are vulnerable to being displaced from their nesting sites by the larger crested auklets. A single egg is laid in the crevice and incubated for a month, after which a semi-precocial black downy chick is hatched. Both parents share incubation duties, as well as brooding and feeding duties. Unlike many auks, which are fed fish carried crosswise in the bill, chicks of the least auklet are fed copepods and other zooplankton from a sublingual pouch, as are other small auklets. The chicks receive no further parental care after they fledge, and can dive to hunt as soon as they leave the nest.
Saint Paul Island, AK