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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Earth Ear: Rhinoceros Auklets

Air Date: Week of July 17, 2015

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Examining an auklet chick near artificial burrow (Photo: Jeff Rice)

Rhinoceros Auklets spend much of their day out in the waters off of northern Pacific coastlines, but at night they return to their burrows, mouths full of fish for their chicks. Reporter Jeff Rice, along with other wildlife personnel, captured the calls of these puffin-related fowl in the early morning hours before daybreak.


CURWOOD: We leave you this week – in the company of some extraordinary creatures and their babies.

[Bird calls: Rhinoceros Auklets.)

CURWOOD: These are several rhinoceros auklets with their chicks – recorded at Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Pacific Coast. Rhinoceros Auklets are relatives of puffins; medium sized dark grey duck-like birds that spend their days at sea, and then return at night with fish for their single chick hiding deep in a burrow.

[More Rhinoceros Auklet calls]

CURWOOD: Jeff Rice recorded these birds in the middle of a July night, with support from the Acoustic Atlas at Montana State University.

Rhinoceros auklet burrows on Protection Island (Photo: Jeff Rice)



Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Straight of Juan de Fuca and harbors one of the largest nesting colonies of rhinoceros auklets in the world.

Scientists are studying the auklets as an indicator of the health of the overall Puget Sound ecosystem

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) generously allowed access to the island for the recordings.

Scott Pearson (WDFW) and Tom Good (NOAA Fisheries) provided assistance in determining recording locations.

The University of Washington Encyclopedia of Puget Sound

The Acoustic Atlas at Montana State University


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