Friday, April 2, 2010

Puffin....Nuffin - Friday's facts, fascinations and folklore

To choose a bird for my Friday F, F and F, I usually think of what birds I've seen during the week.  The one that kept coming to mind this week was a Puffin!  Now, I haven't seen a live puffin this week (or even a dead one!), but just an embroidered logo puffin the golf sweater my husband was wearing yesterday!
Photo by 60North

Here's a Simon Drew picture we have in our home - "Puffin....Nuffin".  I love Simon Drew's work - we have  quite a few of his drawings around.  You see a lot of his work around the UK but not much here in the US.  He uses word play in many of his illustrations - so obviously we have similar obtuse wordy minds!

The colors on puffins beaks are so bright and give them a comical look - which seems to have led to their nickname of "the clowns of the sea". 

Puffins are poor flyers and especially struggle to become airborne.  They flap their wings at an amazing 300 - 400 beats per minute to maintain flight.  Landing is not their forte either and they are often seen crashing or tumbling over as they land - adding to their clown-like persona!  They are however  excellent swimmers and their wings seem better adapted for underwater "flying" than flying in the air. 

 Puffin Trio Photo by Nagillum

In the 1800s and 1900s, the puffin was commonly hunted for it's meat and its eggs. This led to a severe decline of the world's puffin population, even completely eliminating some puffin colonies. Luckily in the late 20th and now 21st century, puffins enjoy better protection and conservation work is being carried out, particularly in North America, to help to save the remaining puffin population.

They mate for life and live for around 25 years, with mating pairs producing normally only one egg a year.

Photo by 60North

Doesn't this one look sweet with a little stone in his mouth.....makes you want to add a caption to it.....  They would make a lovely metal sculpture necklace....just need to figure out how to add the colorful beak and legs.....


My Computer Tutor said...

I've never seen a live puffin! Only a dead one on a beach when I was a kid...
I'd love to see them - there's still time.

Its Latin name is 'Fratercula' which means 'little brother'.

Anyone know why? Like a little fat monk, perhaps?

Ruth said...

I read that the Fratercula is either because their head coloring is like a monk's cowl (!!!!????) or because they clasp their feet together prayerfully when taking off!!

I think as they are bad flyers, it's proabably the latter, as they are praying they will be airborne!