Atlantic Puffin- Clown of the Sea
I like many people of the world adore the cute little Atlantic Puffin - the clown of the sea. This curious looking little bird spends most of it's time out at sea; only coming to land to join breeding colonies during the breeding season. During this season their beaks become very colorful with the bright orange, black and ivory stripes. Their beaks as well as their feet will return to a dull grey during the winter months. But they will return to the bright colors we all love in the next breeding season. Once the breeding season is over they head back to sea resting on the waves when they tire of flying. They are not very good flyers of the air but are amazing flyers under the water. They are amazing swimmers using their wings to fly through the water and their rubbery feet as rudders. They can dive to an amazing 200ft and stay underwater for up to 1minute. While hunting they tend to catch herrings and sand eels.
The Atlantic Puffins form breeding colonies on North Atlantic sea coasts and islands. 60% of the breeding colonies are found on Iceland. They prefer the rocky cliff tops for nesting sites where they make their burrows. It is common for a breeding pair to continue to use the same burrow year after year. It is unsure how they are able to find it some ideas are the following: smell, sounds, visual reference such as the stars, or even using the earth's magnetic fields.
The female Atlantic Puffin lays one egg which both parents help to incubate. When the chick hatches they both take turns in feeding and hunting for food for the chic. When hunting the Puffin catches around 10 fish scooping them up into it's beak. It pins it's prey in it's bill with backward pointy spines on it's tongue and top of it's mouth. When the baby chic is ready to leave the nest it instinctively heads for the sea where it remains until it is ready to return to land to find a mate to continue the breeding cycle all over again ensuring that the Puffins will continue to populate.
Hopefully we will have this "clown of the sea" sharing our planet with us for many years to come. But in order for this to be a reality we must take stronger measures in trying to secure the Atlantic Puffins habitat. With "Climate Change" becoming more of a concern it is causing problems with the Puffin's habitat. If we can't find solutions to these problems many species that we adore such as the Atlantic Puffin could be heading for the endangered species list. I pray that we can find a way to keep them here filling our lives with delight with their presence.