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Penguins, Puffins, and Auks: Their Life and Behavior

with photographer Art Wolfe

"William Ashworth's text glimmers....His essays on the biology, ecology and sociological quirks of penguins in the antarctic region and similar disquisitions on the auks and puffins of the arctic and subarctic region are graceful, marvelously informed and urgent." --T. H. Watkins in Book World


While penguins and puffins and auks are unrelated, it is life-style, not genetics, that shapes their similarities. Most striking of all is their upright stature and the waddling, shuffling gait that makes us think of clowns in tuxedos. They are fascinating birds that walk like us, small caricatures of humans in evening dress.

Penguins, Puffins, and Auks is a superb photographic study by Art Wolfe, one of the world's foremost nature photographers. Wolfe vividly portrays penguins on the perpetual ice fields of the Antarctic as they frolic like children, sliding on the snow, porpoising throught the frigid waters, and arguing continuously at the tops of their raucous voices over patches of ice and bits of carefully hoarded stone. He captures the Adelie penguins approaching their rookery, an emperor penguin standing up four feet tall, and chinstrap penguins on an iceberg off the Antarctic's Elephant Island.

To photograph auks and puffins, Art Wolfe traveled to their habitats in North America: horned puffins on St. George Island in Alaska, rhinoceros auklets in the Aleutian Islands, argumentative razorbills on the shore of Machias Seal Island, Maine, horned puffins with their courtship plumage, crested auklets in their niches in the Bering Sea, alcids in flight, and many others.

William Ashworth has written a clarifying text on the similarities and differences between penguins and auks. He covers the sixteen penguin species and the twenty-two recognized auk species. Penguin species are strangely alike, differing from one another prncipally in size. Penguins' most striking feature is undoubtedly their wings, which are designed to fly through water. The auk family is slightly larger in number than the penguin family and is considerably more diverse in character. For both penguins and auks Ashworth includes their ecology: range, habitat, niche, their place in the food web - both what they eat and what eats them.

The author analyzes the skeletal structure of each and how it equips these birds for life in the cold seas, their survival for long periods of time without access to fresh water, their unusual feathers, their high metabolic rates, thier high energy need for maintaining constant internal temperatures, and their molting process. He then describes their daily behavior, courtship, and breeding cycles. Finally he warns of the effects of pollution and habitat loss caused by human activities.

Here is the exotic story in vivid photographs and enlightening text of these loveable birds called penguins, puffins, and auks.

--from the jacket

Large-format hardback published by Crown, New York (1993)