less than 1 minute read

Puffins Auks and Murres: Alcidae

Physical Characteristics

Alcids, species in the Alcidae family, range from 6 to 17 inches (12 to 45 centimeters) in length and from 0.17 to 2.4 pounds (0.4 to 1.1 kilograms) in weight. They have narrow, short wings and short tails. Their toes are webbed. Alcids are primarily black, white, and gray in color, although some species have brown feathers during parts of the year. Males and females are similar in coloration. These birds also have a striking upright posture, one of the physical features that makes them well-suited to diving and "flying" underwater. All species are also able to fly in the air, although many need a running start to become airborne.

Bill shape varies a great deal in the group. The razorbill has a long, sharp bill. Puffins have deep bills that are laterally compressed, flattened left to right. The dovekie has a short, pointed bill. Guillemots have straight bills. The parakeet auklet has an unusual bill in which the lower half turns upward at the tip. This bill helps it catch its primary prey, jellyfish.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsPuffins Auks and Murres: Alcidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Common Murre (uria Aalge): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, PUFFINS AUKS MURRES AND PEOPLE