Word of the Day – Thursday, September 21st



Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

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AUK (awk)

Black-and-white diving birds of the northern seas
Common clues: Razor-billed bird; Arctic bird;
Northern shorebird; Diving seabird; Black and white diver; Dovekie; Puffin's cousin
Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year
Frequency in English language: 50385 / 86800
Little Auks and Arctic Foxes

Auks are birds of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes. They are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits. Nevertheless they are not related to the penguins at all, but considered by some to be a product of moderate convergent evolution.

In contrast to penguins, the modern auks are able to fly (with the exception of the recently extinct Great Auk). They are good swimmers and divers, but their walking appears clumsy. Due to their short wings auks have to flap their wings very fast in order to fly.

Auks live on the open sea and only go ashore for breeding, although some species, like the Common Guillemot, spend a great part of the year defending their nesting spot from others.

Several species have different names in Europe and North America. The guillemots of Europe are murres in North America, if they occur in both continents, and the Little Auk becomes the Dovekie.

Some species, such as the Uria guillemots, nest in large colonies on cliff edges; others, like the Cepphus guillemots, breed in small groups on rocky coasts; and the puffins, auklets and some murrelets nest in burrows. All species except the Brachyramphus murrelets are colonial.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Auk".