Parakeet Auklet (Aethia psittacula) - BirdLife species factsheet (2024)


Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula

  • Summary
  • Text account
  • Data table and detailed info
  • Distribution map
  • Reference and further resources
  • Summary
  • Text account
  • Data table and detailed info
  • Distribution map
  • Reference and further resources

Current view: Text account


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number 1.4 million mature individuals (Partners in Flight 2019).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the impact of climate driven trophic shifts leading to the periodic or ongoing loss of accessible prey in certain areas of the species's range.

Distribution and population

The Parakeet Auklet is found in the North Pacific Ocean, from Hokkaido, Japan and far off the coast of California (U.S.A.) in the south, up to and including the southern part of the Chukchi Sea. It breeds on islands throughout this area, as well as on the coast of Alaska (U.S.A.) and the eastern coast of Siberia, Russia.


This marine species occurs offshore and along rocky sea coasts. Its diet is comprised mainly of planktonic crustaceans, specifically euphausiids and amphipods, early and calanoid copepods during chick-rearing, and it is supplemented with varying amounts of other invertebrates and small fish. Food is usually obtained at considerable distance from colonies. Spring arrival and the start of laying is variable depending on latitude, starting earliest in the south of its range and latest in the extreme north. It is monogamous with high site fidelity and presumably high mate fidelity between years. Colonies are loose and range from small to large, breeding on offshore islands using dark crevices and cavities in steep sea cliffs, rocky talus slopes and beach boulder fields as nesting sites (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


Climate related trophic shifts appear to have led to considerable declines in the numbers of Parakeet Auklet in Prince William Sound (Agleret al.1999), although whether populations are affected more widely in Alaska is unknown. Modern populations are considered likely to be much lower than in the 19th century as a result of harvesting and the introduction of invasive predators to many islands for fur production (Nettleship et al. 2018). Additionally, large numbers were previously killed in the particularly destructive high seas salmon drift-net fishery (DeGange and Day 1991), which was closed in the 1990s following improved regulation. Numbers affected today are much smaller with an estimate across all gear types of 36 auklets caught annually between 2007 and 2015 (Eich et al. 2016), and this level of mortality is unlikely to impact populations. Similarly, a total of only 31 oiled individuals were recovered after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, with the climate driven trophic shift more likely to have impacted the population (Agler et al. 1999).
Subsistence hunting takes place at Pribilof, St. Lawrence and Little Diomede Island, but mortality levels have not been quantified. Out of 24 studied seabirds in the North Pacific, this species ranked highest in mean number of plastic particles per bird (Robardset al.1995). The impacts of plastic ingestion are unknown, but birds collected at Buldir showed no relationship between number of plastic pellets in crop and body condition, chicks were not fed plastic by parents (Bond et al. 2010) and no population impact has been demonstrated.
Some colonies are suspected of being affected by non-native predators with Arctic Vulpes lagopus and Red Foxes V. vulpes introduced on the Aleutian Islands for fur farming (Bailey 1993) and the accidental introduction of Rats Rattus rattusto many Alaskan islands. However the species continues to breed on islands where Arctic Foxes are native (Pribilof, St. Matthew and St. Lawrence) and the scattered nature of this species's colonies reduces the likelihood that a small number of predators could severely impact a colony.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Martin, R., Miller, E., Fjagesund, T., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S. & Calvert, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Aethiapsittacula. Downloaded from on 23/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/02/2024.

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Parakeet Auklet (Aethia psittacula) - BirdLife species factsheet (2024)
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