Sunday, July 14, 2019

Murrelets and Auklets

We were in Seattle on 12 July 2019. Friends showed us Discovery Park, which I have been lobbying to visit. Local birders have been seeing alcids there. About a half-mile distant, we spied two birds, dots on Puget Sound. Alcids are a circumpolar bird family. They look vaguely like ducks, but appear to be more closely related to shorebirds and gulls.
Once home, to my surprise, I discovered that the two photos I took are of different species. In the field, I thought both birds were Marbled Murrelets, like the bird in the first picture. These brownish seabirds are found from Coastal Alaska to California. The Marbled Murrelet differs from other alcids because it nests in coastal Old Growth forests. The second photo turned out to be of a Rhinoceros Auklet. The curious horn on breeding birds is an extension of its mandible. The function of the horn, the same size in males and females, is unknown. Rhinoceros Auklets breed from coastal Alaska to California. The bird is common in Puget Sound. The species is also found in the western Pacific south to Japan. Both of these alcids are new to my photographic collection. Obviously I look forward to closer views of these handsome birds.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Dan - these are species we are very fortunate
    to see for us landlocked folks. Very good photo work and identification from such a long shot. We enjoyed this blog
    immensely.

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