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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro


Guillemot. My guess is that those who might read this post have never heard of one . . . or certainly have never observed one in the wild.

The Guillemot is a hardy bird with a rich black-and-white plumage and showstopping red legs, Black Guillemots are a highlight of the cold rocky coasts of the North Atlantic and Arctic. These duck-sized seabirds forage close to shore, flapping their small wings to power deep dives for fish and invertebrates near the sea bottom. In winter, most of the black body plumage is replaced by whitish feathering. Some individuals stay close to shore year-round, while others move out to sea or forage amid the pack ice. The name "guillemot" is French and may be derived from the French “Guillaume,” meaning William . . . i.e., the Bill bird.

Interesting avian trivia: Guillemots are members of the auk family (auks, puffins, murrelets, etc.), most of which lay only one egg. Guillemots are also members of the auk family, but these hardy critters lay two eggs. Tuck that trivia fact away to help you win some future TV game show.

My first thought: Although I’d love to view one in the wild, I’m glad I’m not a Guillemot. Not because I don’t like birds; matter of fact I’m a big fan of them, illustrated by the hundreds of pounds of bird seed providing sustenance for the flying critters that grace my backyard. But if I was to be a bird, I’d prefer not living amid the Arctic ice pack and diving for dinner in the frigid depths of the Chuckchi Sea. By choice, I’d be a golden eagle living in the high forests of the Vancouver Island interior.

My second thought: the Guillemot is an example of the things I do not know. Put positively, there are so many exciting things in life yet to explore and experience . . . in books, in videos (love those documentaries), and in person. To stop exploring, seeking, questioning, experiencing, and learning is, for me, to be Resting In Peace. That will come someday, but in the meantime, there is a world of exciting unknowns and things not yet experienced that beckons for my curious investigation.

Maybe later today I’ll go into the forest behind my house with a magnifying glass and find some rotten log to turn over.

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