Gene Jarvis: Norway Auk
Artist: Gene Jarvis
When gentle breezes waft in from the ocean, a great raft of Norway Auks undulates into the bay. After months at sea, the birds have returned to their breeding island in the North Atlantic. The birds have strong faithfulness to their breeding sites and individuals return to lay eggs in the same spot on the same ledge on the same cliff year after year. The Norway Auks are marine birds and are tied to the land only for their breeding. Although these waterbirds bear narrow and short wings, their flight is fast and boisterous. As an excellent swimmer and diver, the Norway Auk can stay underwater up to one and sometimes even two minutes. The birds usually dive as deeply as ten meters, but they are capable of reaching even greater depths. Beating their half open wings powerfully and stretching legs back with webs spreading like a rudder, the birds seem to fly underwater. In contrast, as the heavy-bodied swimming birds walk about on the shore, they look very clumsy and even comical because their legs are placed far back on the body. Although no bright colors appear on their feathers, the bird's plumage is dense, firm and waterproof. The Norway Auks draw their sustenance exclusively from the ocean. Even young birds only two weeks old will flutter down to the water to accompany their parents as they search for a tasty meal amid the ocean waves.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Norway 2.50 Norway Auk stamp issued April 14, 1983.
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