This week’s photo, taken July 13, 2013 in Discovery Park in Seattle, WA, features a RHINOCEROS AUKLET. This time of year when the Rhinoceros Auklet is in breeding plumage, it sports two white plumes of feathers on each side of its face, as well as a white vertical extension that rises up from the base of its bill.
A brief visit on Saturday to Discovery Park produces sightings of an unusual bird with an unusual name. The RHINOCEROS AUKLET is more closely related to the puffin than to the auklet, and it certainly is not a large, one-ton, four-legged land animal that roams in Africa or Southern Asia and eats lots of big salads. So, why the name?
During breeding season, it grows a ‘horn’ at the base of its stout bill that resembles the projection on a certain large animal. That explains the first word in its name. As to why it’s considered an auklet and not a puffin; well, that may support my theory that when scientists sit together in a room and come up with names for birds, a lot of alcohol is present. Fortunately, the bird itself doesn’t know or care what we have named it.