Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerta)
These romantic birds work together to build their nests, and then enjoy a rest at sea before incubation begins.
This bird is easily recognizable by the horny projection on its upper jaw, the source of its common name. There are white plumes behind the eyes and behind the bill, but the rest of the body is an unremarkable charcoal grey with a white abdomen. The yellowy-orange bill is quite strong. Reaching up to 40 cm in length, this bird is smaller than murres but larger than murrelets.
The rhinoceros auklet is found throughout the British Columbian coastal islands during the breeding season, but can be found as far south as southern California in the winter.
Using its bill and feet, burrows for nesting are dug on steep grassy slopes. Some burrows can reach 8 m in length! After the single egg is laid in a chamber at the end of the burrow, it is incubated for up to 45 days. The chick remains in the nest for an additional 50 days before heading to sea.
Diet varies depending on location, but small fish such as herring, anchovies, smelts, capelins, and sand lances are important.