Great Auk

About the Great Auk
Also known as: Garefowl, Penguin

The Great Auk is an extinct bird, the only species in the genus Pinguinus, flightless giant auks from the Atlantic, to survive until recent times. Standing at 30 to 34 inches high and weighing around 11 pounds, the flightless Great Auk was the largest of the auks.

Once abundant across the North Atlantic, from Northern Europe to Canada and the northeastern United States, Great Auks were typically found on rocky, isolated islands with easy access to the ocean. They were superb swimmers, using their webbed feet to navigate underwater in search of fish and crustaceans.

Tragically, the Great Auk was driven to extinction in the mid-19th century. The last known living individuals were killed in 1844 on Eldey Island, Iceland. Their demise was primarily due to excessive hunting, as they were sought for their meat, feathers, and fat. The bird's inability to fly made it particularly vulnerable to human predation. Their extinction highlighted the impact of human activity on species and ecosystems, underscoring the importance of wildlife conservation.

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International Names

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Related Articles

The End of the Great Auk

On this date* in 1844, off the coast of Ireland, a pair of Great Auks were killed. These proved to be the last specimens of Great Auk ever collected. The Great Auk was a flightless species. It stood up to 33 inches...  Read more »

AOU student quiz bowl

Earlier this month the American Ornithologists' Union had their annual meeting in Philadelphia. During the event, the 4th annual student quiz bowl took place, and Birdorable was proud to donate three of our Great Auk tote bags to be used as prizes. The Great Auk...  Read more »