Sunday, March 26, 2023

Rhinoceros Auklet

The rhinoceros auklet is closely related to the puffin and is also known as the horn-billed puffin, unicorn puffin and rhino auklet. It has a relatively large bill that is brown on top, orange on the bottom and has a 'horn' protruding from it in breeding season that gives it its name. It also has white plumes above the eyes and behind the bill in breeding season. The iris is yellow and the plumage is dark gray above and lighter gray below. 

It is found in the North Pacific from the Channel Islands of California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska on the eastern side and from Hokkaido and Honshu, Japan to Sakhalin Island on the western side. Most of the North American population breeds on a small number of islands in British Columbia and adjacent parts of Washington and southeast Asia. 

They feed on fish as well as some krill and squid. 

I first saw one when we took a long boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park off the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in 2016. Then I took a pelagic bird trip with Island Packer Cruises in March where we basically circled Anacapa Island and visited Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands off California. We saw some of them relatively close to Anacapa Island, but most where quite a ways offshore. They were usually quite a ways from the boat and quite small, so getting a good photo was difficult. I got one decent photo and a few poor but recognizable photos out of about 45 photos taken. It was not helped by the fact that the water was quite choppy at times. 

1 comment:

  1. The stripes on the head are quite distinctive. It's weird how much of the body is underwater.