Thank you for checking in to read my latest illustrated Scottish Story: interesting facts about puffins.
I’ve always been intrigued by puffins: they are such wonderfully charismatic and colourful little creatures with an almost unmatched ability to conquer land, sea and air.
With many colonies dotted around the more remote pockets of the Scottish shoreline, they have long been a source of fascination but are, admittedly, a species I’ve known very little about. So, when scouting around for a fun and inspiring theme for Christmas 2018, this seemed the perfect opportunity to dive in, learn more about them and illustrate them at work, rest and play.
I’ve enjoyed this wee project so much, and wanted to share what I’d learnt – not just the interesting facts about puffins but also my sketches and illustrations which help capture the character of these colourful little birds. I hope you enjoy my new Puffin Santa Christmas designs – and watch this space for more Puffins coming soon.
- Clumsy and awkward in flight but fast and agile underwater
- Noisy and gregarious on land but silent and solitary when at sea
- They mate for life but spend their winters apart
- Colourful and dapper in the summer but dull and dowdy through the winter
- Same mate, same home: they mate for life and return home to their same craggy shoreline and burrow each and every year
- Chez puffin: they dig out a snug little burrow one meter into the soil where they lay their single egg
- A parliament of puffins: reflecting their tightly packed colonies and orderly habits, a parliament of puffins has to be one of the most expressive and distinctive collective nouns in the animal kingdom
- Life on the ocean wave: in contrast to the hustle and bustle of land life, winter months are spent bobbing about in the Atlantic in their own solitary square kilometer of ocean space
- Summer and winter wardrobes: when at sea from August to the following spring puffins beaks and feet are relatively dull in colour; however when returning to land for the mating season they switch into their bright orange summer garb
- One baby families: with only egg per mating couple, puffin junior, or puffling, is guaranteed lots of love and attention in the cosy family burrow
- Ball of fluff: granted most babies are cute, but the puffling must win the Cute Baby prize every year over all other species
- 6 weeks and I’m off: once the pufflin fluff has been discarded its a one-way ticket out of parliament to the open sea; a tender age to earn your wings!
- From puffling to puffin: for the next 3+ years of puffin apprenticeship far, far out in the mighty Atlantic Ocean they will learn to swim, fish and fend for themselves only returning to land as young adults
- Inbuilt navigation system: exhibiting nature’s wonderful and as yet unfathomed ability to navigate by the stars, magnetic lines or Google Maps, puffins are known to return to the very colony from which they departed many lonely years before
- The ability to truly traverse nature’s 3 major thoroughfares – land, sea and air – is restricted to very few in the animal world; and by far the coolest has to be stocky wee puffin
- Waddling parliamentarians: when they walk with heads bowed and with their hands clasped behind their backs, they are reminiscent of well dressed, conscientious little bastions of society
- Clumsy aviators: they are far from the most refined of birds on the wing and their frequent crash landings on water and land can be wonderfully entertaining to all but the fearless pilots involved
- Sub aqua specialists: their lack of airborne skills are quickly compensated for when underwater; using their wings for dynamic propulsion and feet as rudders. Little fishes beware!
- Favourite food: sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Solid bones: unlike almost every other species of flying birds who have light hollow bones (pneumatized bones if you want to be really fancy), puffins have entirely solid bones making them heavier and better divers
- St Kilda
- Craigleith Island
- Isle of May National Nature Reserve
- Orkney Islands
- John O’Groats (surrounding coastline)
- Cape Wrath
- Fair Isle
- Shetland Islands
- Staffa Island
- Inner Hebrides
If I get to go around again on life’s magic roundabout, I wouldn’t mind being a dapper little puffin and hanging out in a Puffin Parliament all day with my pals and putting into practice all of these interesting facts about puffins. But I’d be sure to get a UK passport, as my Icelandic cousins are savoured and served very differently from here in the UK!
And if you are a Puffin fan, don’t forget to check out my new Christmas Santa Puffin goodies.