Pelagic birding offers an exciting way to observe seabirds that rarely make an appearance on land. Seabirds are unique in that they spend most of their lives on the open ocean, only coming on land to nest. Seabirds live in three worlds; the air, on land, and in the water; not only must they be excellent fliers, they also must be adept at swimming underwater.
Alcids (murres, murrelets, and auklets) have very short tails and necks, pointed bills, and simple black and white plumage patterns. All use their wings to “fly” underwater in pursuit of prey. Alcids are more adapted to swimming under water than flying in air, though they fly thousands of miles. Flight in the air is fast and direct with very rapid, buzzing wingbeats. Most species, like this Cassin’s auklet require a long running start to become airborne.
Photo credit- Steve Brad (2015)