Dovekie (Alle alle)


Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family:    Alcidae
Size:    Length: 7.5 to 9 inches (19 to 23 cm)  Wingspan: 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 cm)
Weight: 4 to 6 ounces (113 to 170 g)
Diet: Small fish, plankton and bottom-dwelling invertebrates
Distribution: North Atlantic
Young:  1 chick once a year
Animal Predators:  Gulls, ravens, falcons, foxes, seals and beluga whales
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Unknown



     Dovekies are also known as little auks.

     They are related to puffins, razorbills and great auks.

     Nesting colonies are filled each year with the noisy chatter of these sociable little birds.

     Their droppings give nutrients to the arctic soil, allowing moss and lichens to grow.


Dovekies have a black head and back, with a white belly. In the winter, the white from their belly extends up to their chin and around the sides of their head. They have a tiny white stripe right above the eye, which makes them look perpetually on the alert. Both females and males have the same markings.



During summer, these birds can be found in the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans, off the coast of Greenland, Canada and Russia. In the winter, they migrate as far south in the winter as New Jersey and France.


Feeding Habits

Dovekies catch their food by diving for it, using their wings and webbed feet to propel them through the water. Diving occur in shallow waters and can last from 24 to 40 seconds.



Dovekies are monogamous and mate for life. While breeding, they assemble in dense colonies in the Arctic. Established couples often return to their old nest after migration. The nest, made of pebbles and dried grass, is usually found in a rock crevice or within piles of rocks. Between late May and early July, the female lays one pale blue egg. Both parents take turns incubating the egg. Once it has hatched, the parents brood the young to keep it warm for its first two to four days and take turns going out to find food for the chick. Young dovekies have the same black and white markings as their parents. In several weeks, the chick will be capable of walking to the sea, where it is taught to dive and fish by its father. At approximately four weeks of age, the chick learns to fly.



Dovekies belong to the auk family, and live farther north than any of their family members. They are social animals that live in flocks of various sizes. Dovekies are fast fliers, skilled swimmers, and walk with ease over the rocks, ice and cliffs found in the north. 



Dovekie populations are healthy with the world population estimated to be 14 million. 



Dovekie Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US