Posts Tagged: Atlantic Puffin

Its Safer Underwater!

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Atlantic Puffins can fly as fast as 50 Miles Per Hour, but they can dive up to 200 feet underwater. Their wings become flippers and their feet become rudders. Puffins become like Penguins and “fly” through the water with their wings. I photographed this Atlantic Puffin landing with a battered foot on Machias Seal Island. I thought I remembered one of the University of New Brunswick researchers telling me the island is inaccessible to terrestrial predators, so I wondered how this Puffin got an injured foot. If you enlarge the image, you see that its right foot has a hole in the webbing and a claw is missing! The Black-Backed Gull is the only predator, and a Black-Backed Gull can catch a Puffin in flight mid-air!

So it is safer underwater for a Puffin! 

“Sea Parrot”

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

They nickname the Atlantic Puffin the “Sea Parrot” because of its large colorful bill during the breeding season. These colorful birds have a fascinating life. The “Sea Parrot” nests on isolated islands in large colonies. On these isolated islands the male and female together, dig a burrow up to 7 feet long with their bill, and clawed feet. The Atlantic Puffin pair are monogamous and often return to the same burrow year after year. Some pairs have been together for twenty years or more!

Most of North America’s Puffins breed at Witless Bay, Newfoundland. I photographed this “Sea Parrot” landing on the rocks on Machias Seal Island. Machias Seal Island is between Cutler, Maine and Grand Manan, New Brunswick. Machias Seal Island is a small seabird sanctuary, managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. The Atlantic Puffin spends about four months on their chosen breeding island where they are very social and gregarious. Atlantic Puffins spend the other eight months of the year during the winter, at sea and usually alone!

Atlantic Puffin with fish

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

I captured only two images of this Atlantic Puffin with fish as it flew in from the ocean with a mouthful of food for its chick. A split second later, the Puffin disappeared into the dark burrow to feed that huge beak full of slippery fish to its unseen chick. I wish I could have seen the chick as it devoured this meal. Puffins typically only have one offspring per year, so that’s an enormous meal for one chick!

Common Puffin

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The Atlantic Puffin is also known as the Common Puffin but there is nothing common about this little bird.  They are also known as Sea Parrots because of their colorful breeding colors. Atlantic Puffin are incredible fliers despite their short wing span. Because of their short wingspan they have to flap their wings 3-400 times a minute but can fly up to 55 Miles per hour! They are also excellent swimmers and can dive to around 60 meters and use their wings to fly through the water. I will never tire of watching these beautiful, colorful creatures but it takes effort and lots of planning to photograph them on Machias Seal Island.

A Common Puffin in breeding colors in flight with wings out approaching the camera.

Atlantic Puffin

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Atlantic Puffins are pelagic for most of the year, spending their time alone in the cold open northern ocean a long way off shore.  They dig a burrow or tunnel on an island to lay their one solitary egg. Puffins only  come onto land to breed in colonies, usually with the same partner  in the same burrow, every spring and summer.  They bring fish back to the burrows to feed the little “puffling”.  The Atlantic Puffin are brightly colored only during breeding season and since breeding season is the only time they are visible it works out perfectly for photographers!