Piano-playing puffins entertain on RSPB's Coquet Island

An electric piano has been rigged up on Coquet Island off Amble to provide puffins the opportunity to show off their musical skills

There is more to life for puffins on a Northumberland island than catching fish and hatching eggs.

For starters, there is chance to join the musical band called The Puffets.

Staff on the RSPB Coquet Island reserve, off Amble, provide the puffins with entertainment opportunities and the birds do the rest.

The team has rigged up an electronic piano, which the puffins play by jumping on the keys.

 

“They run up and down the keyboard and produce a jazzy kind of music,” says Dr Paul Morrison, island site manager. The piano-playing puffins have been filmed by species protection assistant Matt Butler.

Paul, assistant warden Wesley Davies and research student Kaye Lowes have also laid on a child’s drum kit, bought at a car boot sale, which can be played by the birds tugging at strings.

Other birds chip in on a triangle and brass bell.

“Puffins are curious birds and they enjoy exploring, If we provide something to play on, they will play with it,” says Paul.

“They are communal birds and do a lot of things together, so if one plays, others will join in.

 

“They are very much aware of the sounds they produce.” With more than 12,000 pairs of puffins on the island, there is no shortage of recruits.

“We just enjoy watching them being creative,” says Paul.

During the Olympics, the team made a puffin podium with the birds taking turns to hop on to the one, two and three positions.

They also admire themselves in a porthole mirror and also pass the time playing on swings.

Blacksmith Stephen Lunn made the puffins their own metal galleon at his forge in Red Row, Northumberland.

For the World Cup, the team plans to put up the national flags of teams as the group matches are played.

“We will see what flags the puffins favour and perhaps we will have a few bets,” says Paul.

See the puffins perform on www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT6mnjT3yts

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