Fratercula arctica

| 5 Comments

Photograph by Sarah Boosey.

P8090069_Puffin_600.JPG

Fratercula arctica – Atlantic puffin, off the coast of Iceland, 2010.

5 Comments

Upon this cake of ice is perched,

The paddle-footed Puffin:

To find his double I have searched,

But have discovered — Nuffin’.

I had no idea that this splendid poem, which I have been reciting (mostly correctly) for 50 years, was written by R. W. Wood, a famous opticist. Check the first link to see Wood’s drawing of the puffin and the nuffin.

Fratercula arctica - “Little Arctic brother.” What a charming name. Who christened the bird thus?

Fratercula arctica - “Little Arctic brother.” What a charming name. Who christened the bird thus?

The Wikipedia article says that the name means “Little Arctic Friar”.

A distasteful joke about a cooking method for poultry would be possible here, but I won’t sink to that level.

Ah, yes, of course: a bilingual pun, like “Grandina, Caesar” for “Hail, Caesar.” As you say, though, the name of the bird seems to represent a joke in ill taste.

The Wikipedia article says that the name means “Little Arctic Friar”.

That leaves me wondering if it was named for brothers, or for friars. Either way, I’m guessing that the fact that friars are sometimes addressed as “brother” would lead to the other interpretation.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 28, 2011 12:00 PM.

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