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Two amazing puffin skulls


Two weeks I wrote about the Scottish Seabird Centre and meeting Mrs Powell who is another bone collector. We met to swap two red skulls for a pig skull and a seal skull, but she kindly gave me some extra things including these amazing Atlantic puffin skulls.

Puffins are amazing birds. They can both fly and swim and they have to swim to catch fish in the water. The best thing about these skulls is that they have the beak sheats. Puffins are easy to spot because of their really bright beaks. Here is a stuffed puffin at the National Museum of Scotland:

The beak on this bird is brighter and more colourful that the beaks on my skulls. I think this is because after breeding season the outer park of the beak falls off and it's less colourful. The rest of the puffin is quite boring in colours and is only black and white.

The Scottish Seabird Centre had puffins as part of its display. This puffin had a less bright beak too.

They had a tiny puffin chick but it looks nothing like the bigger puffins and the beak is tiny.

It showed them bringing back lots of fish. They use their tongue to hold in fish already in their mouth when they add more. The record number of fish they can carry is supposed to be 62 !

All Mrs Powell's skulls have brilliant labels which show where and when it was found, the Latin name and the common name of the animal.

The beak sheat is taller than the skull itself. There is a big gap between the top of the sheat and the top of the beak bone.

Puffins can spend month at sea which means they have to drink salt water. Birds that drink salt water usually have grooves on the top of their skull where the salt glands go, which get rid of the the salt our of the top of the head. It is more difficult to see them on the skull than it is with my other seabird skulls but they are there around the top of the orbit.

I have never yet seen a puffin for real but I think they are lovely birds. Here is a full puffin skeleton from the Scottish Seabird Centre.

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Mori said...

Those are probably the most awesome skulls I've ever seen. I love how they have the puffin's beak markings on them still!

If you ever happen to be in Northumberland in May-July, I can't recommend a trip to the Farne Islands enough. You are pretty much guaranteed to see Puffins along with terns and various other seabirds. The terns are nuts and they do dive bomb people and peck them on the head, but that just adds to the experience. :D

Jake said...

The skulls are amazing ! They both came from Northumberland. Thanks for the tip about the Farne Islands !

Andrew said...

You can tell Puffins are into fishing when you see their skulls! The beaks are huge relative to their skulls.

I read in a previous post that you've visited the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, but have you managed to visit the Bass Rock itself? It has amazing bird life. Sir David Attenborough said it was "one of the wildlife wonders of the world".

Jake said...

Hi Andrew ! I've not been on Bass Rock but next spring or summer I want to take the boat trip from the Seabird Centre there. I don't think they let many people on Bass Rock so to not scare the birds.

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