The Razorbill is one of the species of sea birds. Compared to others, she has short wings, so she lives more in water than on land. The Razorbill flies poorly, and also walks clumsily, which is why it is customary to classify it as a waterfowl. You can meet a bird in the nature of the northern and warm regions in different parts of the world. Getting to know the peculiarities of her life will help to get more pleasure from watching auks.
The auk comes from the feathered auk family and is one of their largest representatives. After the destruction of another bird relative, the auks remained the only main ones for their species. There are other birds in the auk family. The following species of birds are considered to be relatives of the auks: hatchet, thin-billed guillemot and guillemot. Although their appearance and characters are significantly different.
Since the auk is practically a non-flying species, this affects its external features. The flights are short and clumsy, the gait on land is heavy, reminiscent of penguins. But in the water it swims gracefully, as it dives. In addition, flights cannot be called smooth, rather they are sharp, direct, the bird maneuvers little and makes frequent flapping of its wings, controls its paws. It does not take off from a flat surface, from the water only after acceleration.
In size, they correspond to medium-sized ducks. The body length can reach 45-48 cm, but sometimes less. Depending on the size and the current season, weight can be up to 1 kg. The wingspan is on average 70 cm, but this is influenced by the sex of the bird (males have longer wings). The tail is also quite long, which allows the bird to better balance and swim. The beak has an unusual shape with a blunt tip, and is black in hue.
The plumage is also black on the back, wings and on the head. The lower part of the body is white, there are small stripes on both the head and the beak. During the mating season, the neck of the auk turns black, like the head, back and paws. Females and males have the same color during this period. In winter, it changes: the throat and forehead are covered with white feathers, and the white stripes turn gray. This is how the auks adapt to the environment.
The auk is considered a northern bird that lives in cold regions. But you can meet her at different times of the year in different parts of the world. Birds nest on the territory of islands with rocky relief located in the expanses of the North Atlantic Ocean. Another place of residence of auks is the northern part of France. In the state of Maine in America, these birds also found a place for nesting and breeding.
These are permanent nesting sites during the summer. With the change of season to winter, auks move to other territories. Families that lived in Europe migrate along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea to their western part. Razorbills living in the Americas move to an island in the northeastern shores called Newfoundland, as well as to the territory of New England.
Since this is a waterfowl, it also obtains food for itself under water. Birds eat different types of fish in winter: herring, anchovies, sprats, sprats, gerbils and cod. And also catches crayfish, shellfish (for example, squid). To catch them, auks dive to a depth of up to 7 m, hold their prey tightly with a hook-shaped beak. In summer and during nesting, they look for food in shallow water. Sometimes they take food from other birds.
Like others in the auk family, Razorbills are formed into bird colonies. During the period of rearing offspring, they build a nest in a safe place, sometimes even hard to reach: a ledge of a rock or a recess. At this time, they keep a separate colony or groups. In bird colonies, they build nests openly. A pair of parents stays together for several years, always nesting in the same place. They usually part in the fall.
The breeding season is the only time when auks are on the ground. The rest of the time they are in the water. It is at this time that they often fly and you can hear their unusually piercing cries. However, these birds are relatively quiet, and make sounds usually when attacking, which is rare. In general, the birds are cautious, so calls are not often heard, even if a large group nests at once.
Auks live and nest often in colonies and in the neighborhood with seabirds of other species. Do this simultaneously with the whole group in the spring (from May to June). As a nest, stones are used without soft substrates, branches or hay. Only one egg is laid, light brown, white or yellow with a variegated pattern. Both the male and the female incubate it for 36-50 days. The first offspring appears at 4-5 years.
Gagarkki appreciate chicks very much. If an egg has been lost, a new one is immediately laid. After the appearance of the chick, do not leave him alone for a long time. They grow quickly and after the first two or three weeks they make their first flight to the sea. After that, adult birds abandon nesting sites. Further, young auks develop on the water, learn to get their own food, catch fish or crustaceans.
In nature, there are animals and birds that threaten the lives of adult auks and young offspring. Various birds of prey prey on small chicks and eggs: crows, gulls, peregrine falcons. As well as animals, for example, red foxes and arctic foxes. Adult birds are threatened by polar bears, killer whales and other marine animals. In the past, their populations were greatly threatened by people, as they ate meat, eggs and used plumage for decorations.
These birds are the only existing representatives of their species, since the wingless auks, which had very short wings and did not fly, were completely exterminated back in the 19th century. Today, a related species to the extinct species are arctic auks. The population of these seabirds is only 100,000 pairs of adults, capable of producing new offspring annually.
In view of this situation, auks are a species that is also threatened with extinction. This is facilitated by a number of conditions: the catch of fish, which is the main source of food for them, has increased significantly, pollution of the oceans also causes a decrease in fish. Because of this, the number of auks is declining, and it takes years to restore offspring in the same number, since a couple breeds only one chick per year.
Auk is a unique species of marine life that, like others, needs in protective measures. Therefore, in some places they have already been included in the animal protection program. For example, in Scotland on the island of Fula there is a reserve in which suitable conditions are organized for life and breeding of chicks. On the territory of the reserve, you can observe their life in their natural environment.