Tufted Puffin:
Poetry by Anastacia-Reneé
Art by Raya Friday

from Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This excerpt of Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry, edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, CMarie Fuhrman, and Derek Sheffield, is reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher, Mountaineers Books.

Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry, Edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, CMarie Fuhrman, and Derek Sheffield

Have you ever been so filled up with the wonder of a place that it wants to spill out as a song? Well, here is the songbook. I imagine walking through a forest and pausing to read these illuminating pages aloud to a listening cedar or a dipper. There are field guides that help us to see, and to name, and to know; Cascadia Field Guide does all of that and more. This is a guide to relationship, a gift in reciprocity for the gifts of the land.
  – Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass

Learn more and purchase the book.

Tufted Puffin

(Fratercula cirrhata)

Puffin. Tufted Puffin! This gorgeous, orange-footed, hatchet-billed, chunky-bodied bird captivates nearly everyone who sees them. A charismatic member of the alcid family (which includes murres, guillemots, and murrelets), Puffin is, let’s admit it, a showstopper.

In Cascadia, both Horned and Tufted Puffin thrive and breed; Tufted Puffin is the larger of the two, the one with a dark chest. In winter, Tufted Puffin is subdued, but come breeding, both males and females go wild! Sun-yellow feathers trail from their brows like bicycle streamers, their cheeks flash bright white, and a green-yellow sheath bulks up their already impressive bill. The annually shed sheaths of Puffin bills (as well as the bills themselves) are an important element of blankets, rattles, and other traditional regalia in Cascadia.

Tufted Puffin thrives at sea, spending most of the year offshore and only coming ashore in the breeding season to nest. You can find Tufted Puffin from the Aleutian Islands to Southern California. Like many oceanic birds, Puffin is long-lived (over twenty years), maintains long-term pair bonds (the same couple comes together, often in the same exact spot, year after year to breed), and shares parenting duties (both male and female incubate, brood, and feed their chicks). Tufted Puffin digs a deep burrow for a nest and lays only one egg a year (many songbirds lay multiple eggs multiple times a year). Puffin parents spend considerable time and energy getting their single chick ready for fledging, putting all their eggs, so to speak, in one annual basket.

When a Puffin chick fledges, they do so decisively: they flap off to sea and won’t come back to land for three to four years, when they themselves are ready to breed. Imagine launching yourself from a cozy burrow into the unfamiliar air and sea with no training, no guiding hand. Then you fly and dive, foraging in wild waters until, years later, you are ready to return to a spot you only knew for a couple of months in your chick-hood and find a mate to pair with for the rest of your life.

Tufted Puffin


after talking to my
children about flight

two chesty crests
beak: one. by. one by. one.
roosting (safely)
below my caged window
mother puffin masked
like the superhero
they once knew her (to be)
how mother puffin leapt off
the page & spun (puffins)
tales of the days work

& mother puffin a bird with
slow moving eyes
feather to stay alive
each sing
a bright orange
one popsicle & one sunset
watch them soar
from mothers puffinry
an extended lifespan
& hope
when (puffins) return
all three still squawking




Anastacia-ReneéAnastacia-Reneé is a writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDx speaker, and podcaster. She is the author of (v.) (Black Ocean) and Forget It (Black Radish) and Here in the (Middle) of Nowhere and Side Notes from the Archivist forthcoming from Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins). Renee was selected by NBC News as part of the list of “Queer Artist of Color Dominate 2021’s Must See LGBTQ Art Shows.” She was former Seattle Civic Poet (2017-2019), Hugo House Poet-in-Residence (2015-2017), and Arc Artist Fellow (2020). Her work has been published widely. 

Raya FridayRaya Friday is a member of the Lummi nation whose tribal lands are situated on the edge of the Salish Sea near Bellingham, Washington. She was born and raised in Seattle where, from an early age, she focused most of her time and energy in the arts. Since 1995, she has worked primarily in glass. Friday earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University in New York and, while there, started working at the renowned Corning Museum of Glass first as a technician and later as an instructor. Friday returned to the Pacific Northwest to be close to the land and community she loved. In 2019, she decided to return to school to pursue a humanities degree in Indigenous studies in the Native Pathways Program at Evergreen State College, where she is currently still a student. The intention of Friday’s work is to explore how the unique and haunting vocabulary of glass can amplify and encapsulate both the historical and contemporary issues of her community.

Header image, Eastern Rivers Cluster, by Justin Gibbens, from Cascadia Field Guide. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.