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In general, any of 22 species of diving birds (family Alcidae), especially the little auk and the razorbill, or razor-billed auk. Auks are 6–16 in. (15–40 cm) long, with short wings and legs and webbed feet. They occur only in Arctic, subarctic, and temperate regions (with a few species south to Baja California). Auks nest colonially on cliff ledges or in rock crevices or burrows near the sea; many spend the winter far from land. They feed on fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and plankton. True auks are black and white and stand erect on land. See alsogreat auk.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on auk, visit Britannica.com.