Puffins

Puffin 1Puffins are one of the best loved birds in the world.  They look funny and cute.  They also have some very interesting traits and features.

There are 3 species of puffins on earth, the tufted, horned, and Atlantic.  They live in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic.  Wintering in the North Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, puffins come ashore in the spring and summer to nest.

During the breeding season, puffins nest in huge colonies on rocky cliffs. Large colonies can be found in Alaska, British Colombia, Newfoundland, and Quebec.  These colonies can have millions of birds.  Puffins attract mates with their colorful beaks.  A pair of puffins lay 1 or 2 eggs in a burrow in a nest of seaweed and grasses.  After 5 weeks of incubation, the eggs hatch.  They remain in the nest for 7 weeks.  When they fledge, the young birds remain with their parents until they know how to fish and hunt.  After the nesting season ends, the adults shed their beaks.  The colorful part of the beak is shed because it is no longer needed for the next few months at sea.

Puffins eat small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.  They hunt bait balls of fish and swoop in from above.  A puffin’s beak can hold 20 anchovies at a time.  Puffins often dive for fish.  They can propel themselves through the water with their wings, although taking off is difficult. Since puffins are bulky and not streamline, they need to run fast on the water to take off.  They also crash into cliffs often since they can’t steer too well.