Saturday, June 7, 2008

Puffin's song

An editorial in The Guardian praises the puffin, which is facing a decline in Britain. The piece mentions the puffin's chainsaw call, which I think sounds more like a cow mooing.

Puffins, at just 12 inches, about the size of a blue jay, fall into the category of birds "that you'd think would be bigger." Bird guides have a way of distorting size and so when you see birds in the wild they often are much smaller than what you have imagined for years and years. Some examples include all sandpipers (many are the size of sparrows), most owls, empidonax flycatchers and rails.

Puffins, by the way, are a member of the Auk Family (Alcidae), which includes some really interesting seabirds like razorbills and murres. It also includes the dovekie, which is only 7.5-9 inches and breeds on seacliffs in Greenland. Peterson describes the dovekie as "chubby and seemingly neckless."

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