ETYM Prov. Eng. alk; akin to Dan. alke, Icel. and Swed. alka.
Black-and-white short-necked web-footed diving bird of northern seas.
Short-winged seabird, especially the extinct great and the little auk.
Any member of the family Alcidae, consisting of marine diving birds including razorbills, puffins, murres, and guillemots. Confined to the northern hemisphere, they feed on fish and use their wings to “fly” underwater in pursuit.
The largest was the great auk Pinguinis impennis, 2.5 ft/75 cm and flightless, the last recorded individual being killed in 1844. The smallest is the least auklet, Aethia pusilla, 6 in/15 cm long. It is found along Pacific coasts from Siberia to Alaska.