Kinda recalls the "Tusk Envy" panel from last year, as it has a similar sentiment.
No preliminary doodles, no rough, no sketch, no thumbnail - just one of those random ideas that comes straight outta left field while in the middle of something else completely unrelated. That's what happens when you just-so-happen to have a pencil in your hand, which is always a good idea, as much as possible. Also it was an excuse to break in a new watercolor sketchbook pad.
I did however have to spend some time doing a color chart, and the related research on specific species of both toucans and puffins. Turns out the first choice for a stereotypical puffin as far as colorful beaks, are over on the other coast. See, we here in Alaska have the horned puffin (and the tufted too) - the usual species most often shown is the Atlantic puffin, which sports a more colorful beak. I still think the visual link between the two birds would have been stronger and more effective had I went with the initial idea, but for some strange reason I deferred to scientific fact.
Which if you think about it was a dumb decision, as there's no damn toucans up here either, Speaking of which the illustrated one also deviated from reality as an amalgamation of a few different species so as to get a beak with bands that closely approximated the iconic image of Toucan Sam, regrettably the most easily recognizable sample representative of the species.
Basically in the end it all came down to 1) coloring fun and 2) the winning caption, which was worthy enough of a line to merit something. And yeah, they're related.