Will and Guy's Favourite Bird: The Atlantic Puffin
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
beak is the reason for it's alternative nickname: "parrot of the sea."
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.
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.
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.
Once a puffin hatches, it takes about 48 days to master the art of flying
and to become independent from it's parents.
Atlantic puffins often live for 20 years, and the oldest known puffin was 29 years old.
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.
North Atlantic Puffins beat their wings up to 300 times per minute
to stay aloft.
Puffins are insulated from the cold by an oily coating on their
feathers. Without this coating, they would never survive the harsh
The Latin name for this species is: Fratercula arctica,
The collective name for this bird is a colony of puffins.
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
1929 Lundy Puffin stamps - ½ penny puffin red and 1 penny puffin blue.
Our friend the Atlantic puffin has two relatives, the large tufted puffin
and the horned puffin (a real "parrot of the sea.").
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