This morning I woke up thinking I’d like to research the etymology of some common local seabird names. So in case I’m ever on a seabirdwatching blitz somewhere and am stuck on an isolated beach with an etymologist (kidding—I would love that) I would have some bird name meanings to pull out of my knapsack. “Thanks for spotting the pelagic cormorants,” I might say, adding casually, “Incidentally—I just read the word pelagic comes from Greek for open seas, where pelagic birds spend almost all their lives, only coming to land to breed. Oh, you knew that.... Um, okay, did you know an auk is named for the sound it makes? You did? Oh.... Well, did you also know a puffin is named for its shape, “just like a muffin”? And— true story: gull, gullet and gullible come from the same root because a gull will swallow anything. Hey, what’s that up there?”
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