Atlantic Puffin

Will and Guy's Favourite Bird: The Atlantic PuffinThe Atlantic Puffin - Favourite Bird

Sailors call him the "clown of the sea", the Atlantic puffin is easily recognisable by it's clown-like eye markings.  Some say it's colourful beak is the reason for it's alternative nickname: "parrot of the sea."

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Top Ten Fun Facts and Trivia About Atlantic Puffins

  1. Atlantic puffins spend much of their lives at sea. They are amphibious being able to fly through the air other birds, but they can use those stubby wings as paddles and steer using their webbed feet rather like a boat's rudder.
  2. The purpose of these underwater forays is to find small fish. They submarine for about 30 seconds.  If necessary to catch fish, puffins can dive to depths of over 150 feet.
  3. As the fly around the oceans so puffins have a choice of nesting sites.  Wisely, they nest on rocky cliffs, where the laying birds and their eggs are safer from predators. The birds nest in burrows in the ground or in a sheltered area among rocks.
  4. Once a puffin hatches, it takes about 48 days to master the art of flying and to become independent from it's parents. 
  5. Atlantic puffins often live for 20 years, and the oldest known puffin was 29 years old.
  6. A puffin can sometimes have a dozen or more fish in its beak at once by holding them in an alternating end to end pattern. Will and Guy have been told that the largest recorded number of fish in a puffin's beak at one time was 62.
  7. North Atlantic Puffins beat their wings up to 300 times per minute to stay aloft.
  8. Puffins are insulated from the cold by an oily coating on their feathers. Without this coating, they would never survive the harsh Atlantic winters.
  9. The Latin name for this species is: Fratercula arctica,
  10. The collective name for this bird is a colony of puffins.
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Where Can You Find Atlantic Puffins?The Atlantic Puffin - Ocean

As the name suggests, these puffins live around the North Atlantic Ocean: I have seen them in Iceland, Scandanavia and around the coasts of Great Brittain.  Their habitat extends accross to the other side of the Atlantic, you can see them down the USA seaboard through Maine as far as North Carolina.

Puffins also thrive in Eastern Canada, indeed this "clown of the sea" is the official bird of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Puffin Stamps from Lundy

Puffin Stamps

1929 Lundy Puffin stamps - ½ penny puffin red and 1 penny puffin blue.

Other Species of Puffin

Our friend the Atlantic puffin has two relatives, the large tufted puffin and the horned puffin (a real "parrot of the sea.").

Species of Puffin

PuffinsThe Atlantic Puffins

We think one of the funnier aspects of puffins is the noises they make. They are usually silent birds but a groaning, creaking moan with a low, subtly changing pitch can occasionally be heard at nesting or breeding sites.

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Five Fun Facts About Atlantic Puffins

  1. Young puffins are called pufflings.  A rather a splendid name say Will and Guy.
  2. Puffins like "billing" their partners, we would call it kissing.
  3. Puffins are faithful to their beloved - they mate and then stay together for life.
  4. Puffins can fly as fast as a car on a motorway, up to 70 mph (approx 110kph)
  5. Puffins impress us by drinking sea water.

Puffin on the MenuThe Atlantic Puffins

Sadly, the numbers of puffins are decining.  There are probably several factors of which the most important are: depletion of fish stocks and puffins trapped in fishing nets. 

Will and Guy aren't sure if the Icelanders are helping by eating them.  To take a charitable view this is a seafaring nation's version of 'road kill'.

Puffin Poem by Florence Page Jaques

There Once Was a Puffin

Oh, there once was a Puffin
Just the shape of a muffin,
And he lived on an island
In the bright blue sea!

He ate little fishes,
That were most delicious,
And he had them for supper
And he had them for tea.

But this poor little Puffin,
He couldn't play nothin',
For he hadn't anybody
To play with at all.

So he sat on his island,
And he cried for awhile, and
He felt very lonely,
And he felt very small.

Then along came the fishes,
And they said, "If you wishes,
You can have us for playmates,
Instead of for tea!"

So they now play together,
In all sorts of weather,
And the Puffin eats pancakes,
Like you and like me.

Footnote:
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