Puffin in setting sun, originally uploaded by TJ Large.

How sweet, he is posing for this picture. =) Isn’t the orange bit at the base of the bill/beak, interesting? They are fleshy yellow / orange rosettes.

According to the directory of Project Puffin, Stephen Kress, “the yellow rosette is believed to be part of the puffin’s ‘courtship’ ornamentation. Like the horny plates above and below the eye, the rosette is prominent only during the summer breeding season- it shrinks in winter and loses color. Probably it functions as a signal of maturity and like most such coloration (like a turkey’s waddle and face colors) serves to indicate vitality to prospective mates.”

UPDATE: I found out more about the puffin rosette…read my new post, “The Puffin Rosette“.