Thursday, July 1, 2010
Except for the colorful beak, this puffin could easily be mistaken for a penguin. Puffins are a type of auk, and auks were sometimes called penguins. When European explorers encountered flightless auk-like birds in the southern hemisphere, they used the familiar name to describe them and it stuck. But puffins and auks are not very closely related to penguins in the evolutionary scheme of things. It just happens that there is a natural niche for black and white critters filled by the lookalike birds in their respective neighborhoods. And lookalike is enough for me to keep the puffin on the penguin tree. It was a gift from my brother-in-law John and sister Xena, who found it on an adventure in Nova Scotia, which gives it two more bonus points. And on top of everything, it’s an irresistibly cute ornament in that tangle of Christmas lights, so there’s no way I could say “no” to the puffin.
Acquired: December 2003, gift from John and Xena Galietti