These cute Least Auklets abound on the Pribs. Among auklets, the Least is the one with the least impressive facial ornamentation, but it is nevertheless a stunning little creature. Behavioral ecologists studying the evolution of ornamentation in birds found that if you outfitted Least Auklets with crests, they had much higher success in gaining mates. So it seems that the attraction to the ornamentation is already there, even though these birds don't ever have crests. You can imagine then that as soon as a crest mutation occurs in this species it will spread through the population quickly. Perhaps Least Auklets have no crests like their relatives the Crested and Whiskered auklets, but they make up for it with individuality. Their underparts range from nearly black to spotted or even white!
[photo © guide George Armistead]