New England Seabirds
|New England Seabirds
|Dovekie in winter plumage photographed from
shore in January 2004 by Glen Tepke
and used with his permission. For more of his photographs see the web page
. This photo and all others on this page remain the property of the
Historical names include: Bull Bird and Common Rotche.
Bay Bulls in Newfoundland, a departure point for tours to Witless Bay,
was named for the large number of Bull Birds which used to be seen in the bay
in winter. In recent years the bay has hosted reduced numbers of the
The latin name Alle may have come from the note of the
bird which sounds like "try - eye" or to some " al- le". (6) Linnaeus named it
Alca alle. This was changed to Mergulus alle and to Plautus
alle before it finally became Alle alle.
When and Where To
Winter from land or sea. Three seen on the Stellwagen CBC in 1998.
Almost every winter brings one or two close to Halibut Point or Andrews Point
on Cape Ann. Also seen in mid winter from Race Point on Cape Cod although the
bird seems to prefer rocky coasts to sandy beaches. Birds seen from land
usually do not persist for long so chasing reported birds is seldom productive.
Since it is only rarely seen off the west coast of the United States, this bird
is a New England specialty.
Suffers predation from Great Black-backed
and Herring Gulls. A group of about 35 Brookline Bird Club members were witness
to such an attack one winter at Andrews Point. Fortunately everyone had a good
look at the Dovekie which was swimming about 10 yards from shore before it was
decapitated by a Great Black-backed Gull.
|Dovekie in winter plumage photographed by Don Crockett and
used with his permission. Photo remains the property of the photographer. For
other excellent photographs and interesting birding activities see the Virtual
Birder web page.
||Another photo of the above bird by Don Crockett. This photo
shows the short neck posture which earned the bird one of its nicknames "Bull
|You may be lucky and catch sight
of a Dovekie flying. Leave it to Steve Mirick to actually photograph one in
||January 2004 Cape Cod bird photographed by Ron Haaseth with
a brand new Christmas digital camera. This bird was unusually close to shore as
shown by this photograph in which the photographer seems to be looking down on
Greenland is the main breeding location where
the number of pairs is estimated to be between 8 and 25 million. (Note:
Estimating the numbers of pairs is difficult because there are so many and they
nest at the end of cavities.) Also: Iceland , Ellesmere Island in Canada,
Siberia. Dovekies seem to have abandoned breeding sites in southern Greenland,
Iceland, and Norway probably due to global warming. Known to be
breeding on St. Lawrence Island in the Berring Sea off
Alaska for 35 years.
Nests in large colonies in cavities in
steep talus slopes. The single egg is laid on bare rock usually near the end of
On the breeding grounds they are preyed upon by foxes,
ravens, gulls, and man. At sea by Beluga Whales.
Some migrate south along the coast of New England spending the
winter on the open sea several miles from land. Many spend the winter near the
edge of the pack ice off the coasts of Labrador, Newfoundland, and southern
Greenland. Global warming may be responsible for reducing the numbers off the
coast of New England in recent years. Increased numbers of predatory gulls
encouraged by open garbage dumps may also play a role.
Feeds on small crustaceans (shrimp) and copepods. Adults
carry food back to the young in pouches in their cheeks. Both parents feed the
I found this interesting comment in the Life Histories of
North American Diving Birds by Arthur Cleveland Bent (6) on page 200
|Mr. William Brewster (1906) writes
(about Dovekies) that the stomachs of several killed on Fresh Pond, Cambridge, Massachusetts,
were "filled with the remains of young alewives, " which abounded in the pond.
(An explanation of what the birds were doing on Fresh Pond comes from
Mr. William Drummond of Andover who remembers several Dovekies on the flooded
quarry at Halibut Point after a winter storm.)