Penguin-Like Bird in Indiana Identified

post-trib - No, you're not seeing things if you spot what looks like a small penguin along the Lake Michigan shore.

State park naturalist Brad Bumgardner says it's an ancient murrelet, a cousin of the puffin that lives in Alaska and winters in the Pacific Northwest.

"For a lot of birders, this was their Christmas gift," he said.

According to Bumgardner, Valparaiso birder John Kendall, who set the state record for 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.

He was joined by about 20 other spotters, and by Saturday morning, others were braving the winter storm and roads to drive in from as far away as Indianapolis.

"This would be only the third murrelet spotted in Indiana. 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," Bumgardner said.

There's no explanation why the bird is so far from home.
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