Penguins On Lake Michigan?

If you happen to find yourself on the northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan shore, and spot what looks like a small penguin, it’s not your imagination.  Unfortunately, it’s also not a penguin. It’s an ancient murrelet, a biological cousin of the puffin (the northern hemisphere’s flying version of a penguin)  that lives in Alaska and winters in the Pacific Northwest.
“For a lot of birders, this was their Christmas gift,” says Indiana state parks naturalist Brad Bumgardner.
According to Bumgardner, Valparaiso birder John Kendall — a record-setter when it comes to spotting bird species — saw the football-sized bird floating with a grebe in the water Dec. 18 off the breakwall at the Port of Indiana.
“This would be only the third murrelet spotted in Indiana,” Bumgardner said. “It may be the same one that was seen in the harbor at St. Joseph, Mich., last month. It’s kind of small, so it gets picked on by the gulls and other birds.”
He couldn’t offer an explanation of how the bird strayed so far from home.  But, had it been an actual penguin, that would have really been some straying.

Only three ancient murrelets have been reported in Indiana.

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