16-22 May 2011
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Horned Puffin (Fratercula
corniculata), Family Alcidae
Credit & Copyright: Dr.
Bruce G. Marcot
Explanation: Ah, this is a classic view of one of the larger alcid (auk) species. At the moment I shot this photo, I was hanging over a rather sheer cliff along the north coast of St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea of Alaska.
We had just hiked a half mile or so from the Siberian (or Russian) Yup'ik village of Savoonga and found ourselves in the middle of a most amazing mixed breeding colony of auks, auklets, guillemots, murres, and other seabirds.
Locally, Horned Puffins can be encountered regularly, but throughout their mostly northern boreal and arctic range they are scattered and rare.
The "horns" are fleshy projections extending vertically from the upper part of the eye.
These birds were adults in breeding plumage, told by their white face and brilliantly bi-colored bill.
on this remarkably remote island colony, Horned Puffins and their other alcid
cousins seemed secure ... for now, at least unless and until climate change
and warming ocean waters might
alter or reduce their fish food resources.
Next week's picture: The Tiniest Uropygial
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