Ever heard of a Rhinoceros auklet? This rarely-seen bird has a beak only a mother could love.
And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.Romans 2:29 NLT
In Search of a Rarely Seen Bird
“If you look over there,” Captain John slowed the boat and pointed to the west, “you’ll see Rhinoceros Auklets!”
I swung my camera around and looked through the viewfinder. Sure enough, a line of about 20 small birds filled the screen. Larger than Parakeet Auklets, Rhinoceros Auklets look chunkier, and have a white plume of feathers growing both above and below their yellow eyes.
“That protrusion on their beak gives them their name,” Captain John told us. “But it falls off after the breeding season.” He kept the boat steady while we happily snapped photos.
Their puffin cousins grow large, showy beaks during mating season. Rhinoceros Auklets grow a horn. It doesn’t seem fair.
I wondered why God created Rhinoceros Auklets with a strange horn on its beak. Did they find each other more attractive? I knew American White Pelicans (both males and females) grow knobs on their beaks during the breeding season. I had work to do once we returned to shore.
Five Interesting Facts About Rhinoceros Auklets
- Rhinoceros Auklets are more closely related to puffins than to auklets. They have their own genus, Cercorhinca, and they live primarily within 50 miles of the shore of the North Pacific (from California to Japan).
- During the breeding season, they become crepuscular, which means they perform their mating rituals and leave on foraging trips during the twilight hours.
- Scientists recently discovered the Rhinoceros Auklet’s horn glows in the dark—making it easier to identify each other in crowded colonies. This comes in handy since they spend the night fishing offshore for their chicks. Rhinoceros Auklets will wait until dark to bring their catch to shore. Scientists believe this makes it easier to avoid bully birds that would steal their catch.
- Rhinoceros Auklets (and puffins) have palatal denticles—special spikes in the rear of their upper jaw—which enable them to hold multiple fish in their mouths while capturing more fish.
- Unlike Parakeet Auklets, Rhinoceros Auklets nest in colonies. They dig burrows up to 20 feet deep and create a hollowed-out space at the end for their grass-lined nests. The female lays one egg, and each of the parents shares incubation and childcare duties. Rhinoceros Auklets band together for fishing expeditions and work cooperatively as they swim underwater to create bait balls. Bait balls consist of tight schools of small fish that the birds guide upward, providing an easy catch as they near the surface.
What I Learned From This Unique Species
God created each of us with unique strengths and weaknesses. What might look like a superfluous mistake (a horn on a bird’s beak?!) turns out to provide easy identification during the Rhinoceros Auklet’s busiest season.
When seasons change in my life, I should look to God for answers and not try to find my identity in others. He has reasons for each of our seasons.
Father God, help me accept the changes in myself and my life with grace and gratitude. I might not understand them, but I know you have my best interest in mind.