The Quarterly Journal of Western Field OrnithologistsVol. 41, No. 3
Western Field Ornithologists
Counting the Countless: Estimating the Number of Least Auklets Attending the Colony on St. George Island, Alaska
Heather M. Renner and Martin Renner
ABSTRACT: Estimating the abundance of auklets at breeding colonies has proven extremely difficult, and no satisfactory method has emerged. Auklets nest in concealed rock crevices and socialize on the sea’s surface during portions of the day. Several methods of estimating population trends have been attempted, but a true census has so far been unattainable at any colony. On St. George Island, Alaska, an unusually late snow cover in 2008 made possible a photo count of Least Auklets (Aethia pusilla) attending the inland colony at Ulakaia Ridge. We estimated the number of birds in the colony on 15 May 2008 to be 88,263 ± 3056. Because of the timing of the count and the known life history of the species, the count likely represented almost the entire population breeding at the colony that year.