Cassin’s Auklet

Range Map
Ptychoramphus aleuticus

These birds range from off North America’s Aleutian Islands and south to Baja California’s central coast, and sometimes north to Russian islands in the Bering Strait.

Nesting season varies with the abundance of prey, but often it falls in late autumn and winter. Typically, they dig burrows with their feet, but sometimes they opt for rocky crevices, or even cactus thickets. Cassin’s Auklets are very flexible in their choice of nesting terrain, and may choose high rocky cliffs, or low lying sandy flats to raise their progeny.

Today’s taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Cassin’s Auklet, though most researchers agree that further study is warranted to identify their differences and where there may be overlap.

  • P. a. aleuticus breeds along the Pacific Coast from Alaska, south to Guadalupe Island off the Baja California coast (Mexico).
  • P. a. australis breeds off the west coast of the Baja California peninsula, from San Benito Island, south to Isla Asunción and Isla San Roque

Cassin’s Auklets are regularly seen in waters off the San Diego coast, but when I’ve been on boat trips on the lookout for pelagic birds, the birds I saw were too far away for satisfactory images. It wasn’t until my 2017 voyage while off the central Baja California coast, and on my way to the Revillagigedo Islands that I could close the distance enough to collect images I wasn’t ashamed of.

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