Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tufted puffin...or stuff-ted puffin?

Oh, look at these crazy things. Don't you think tufted puffins look more like stuffed toys than real, true birds? But real true birds they are, and--lucky us--they like to hang out along the Pacific coast in breeding season.

More luck: breeding season (spring and early summer) is when they look their most clownish/lovely. The faces of both sexes become Bozo-white, their eyebrows sprout the feather tufts the species is named for, and even their feet go from salmon-colored to ripe orange. Their bills grow and also change color. (Like those of most birds', the puffin bill is a horny sheath of modified thick skin that is continually sloughed off and replenished.)

A couple tends one egg in a breeding colony, which is typically on an offshore outcropping. They take turns brooding, and then either babysitting or bringing home the bacon, which in this case is smelt, sardines, herring and such. 

Have you ever seen these beauties in person?

Sexy and I know it.
photo by Nathan Hamm on Flickr

6 comments:

  1. They look like Kabuki dancers. I want to be a tufted puffin for halloween!

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  2. I've yet to see one of these little critters in person. The almost look like they're wearing masks. Thanks for the informations.

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  3. I have not seen them in person but sure would like to. You have been assigned to take me to the coast next time they are around!!

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  4. What gorgeous photos and great text, Pat. I love the eyebrow. Mine sometimes sprout weird things, too. Not as pretty as these guys, though. (btw, if I used the term 'horny sheath' on my blog, I would recieve a smart alec comment about it)

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  5. uh oh. I misspelled receive, didn't I? There's no spellcheck on ipad.

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  6. Gorgeous pictures of the puffin; my Haida name is The Little Puffin, and I seen them live in Gwaii Haanas, the most exciting thing for me, I loved them.

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