Wings very short, not reaching to the rump: bill black: an oval white patch in advance of the eye.
A. impennis, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. ii. p. 939. Great Auk, Mont. Orn. Diet. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. ii. p. 397. Selb. Illust. vol. ii. p. 433. pl. 82.
Entire length thirty-two inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) three inches six lines, (from the gape) four inches two lines; of the tarsus two inches five lines; of the tail three inches three lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing seven inches.
(Summer plumage). Head, nape, back, wings, and tail, deep glossy black; front and sides of the neck black tinged with brown: immediately before the eye a large oval white patch: flanks dark ash-colour; rest of the under parts pure white: wings very short, incapacitated for flight; secondary quills tipped with white: bill black; crossed obliquely by several transverse furrows and ridges: irides and legs black. (Winter plumage). " Unknown." Temm. (Egg). Dirty white, tinged with yellow: blotched and streaked, principally at the larger end, with black: long. diam. four inches ten lines; trans, diam. two inches nine lines.
A native of high northern latitudes, very rarely visiting the British coast. Occasionally seen in the Orkneys, and off the island of St. Kilda. Resides entirely in the open sea, never coming on land except for the purpose of breeding. Swims and dives with the greatest rapidity. Lays one egg in the clefts of rocks close to the water's edge. Food, fish and marine vegetables.