October 2019

Vol. 47, No. 5

Gleanings: Dovekies Hoover It Up

David M. Larson


Left: Dovekie with empty gular pouch. Right: Dovekie with full gular pouch. Photographs by the author.

A couple of years ago, I was one of the guides on a cruise in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway. Most of the passengers were there for the polar bears, but we did visit breeding colonies of alcids. While comfortably seated on a boulder in a Dovekie (Alle alle) colony of perhaps 1,000,000 birds at Magdalenefjord, I had time to enjoy the antics of the birds and photograph their comings and goings. Many of the birds arrived in the colony with bulging necks full of food for the young in the nests below the rocks. I knew that Dovekies are planktivorous, feeding especially on Calanus copepods. How many of these tiny zooplankters were they bringing to their young? And how did they catch all those copepods?

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