An 89-year-old poet and author from the Westman Islands, Hilmir Högnason, celebrated his birthday and the release of his first children’s book by releasing the first puffin chick of the season yesterday. The book namely features the adventures of a puffin chick.
Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Hilmir originally wrote the story for his grandchildren but his son encouraged him to have it published. The family recruited Gunnar Júlíusson to illustrate the book, which has now been released in four different languages, ruv.is reports.
In the story a puffin chick, called pysja in Icelandic, flies out of its burrow and into town on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago, as it gets confused by the lights—as often happens in real life. The chick is scared but is eventually rescued by local children.
The family considers it symbolic that around the same time that the book was put on display at the Westman Islands Natural History Museum, where it can now be bought, the season’s first confused pysja was brought there.
The chick was found by local girls Sigrún Ella Ómarsdóttir and Arna Björk Guðjónsdóttir by the Friðarhöfn harbor. They fed it with mackerel and took it to the museum where the chick was weighed. It was 242 grams and wasn’t released until it reached 300 grams, Fréttablaðið reports.
Erpur Snær Hansen, divisional manager of the South Iceland Institute of Natural History, said chicks have been found in 18 percent of puffin burrows in the Westman Islands and that a large part of them appear to have survived.
Erpur considers this a remarkable turning point as only a fraction of puffin chicks have survived in the past two years. He said the chicks don’t get much to eat but still enough for them to survive.