The Atlantic puffin is a beautiful and brightly colored bird that reminds you a great deal of a Penguin, but has one massive difference. Atlantic puffins have a colorful beak that has helped them to gain the nickname of the “sea parrot.”
It is brilliant in coloration during the summer months, but tends to fade to a deep or olive colored gray during the winter, and bloom like a flower to the same bright colors in the spring. Scientists believe that it might be part of the mating attraction, and helps them to get a mate, since it changes with the seasons.
The bright beaked Atlantic Puffin
stay at sea most of their life, and when they are not swimming they ride the waves like a surfboard.
They are excellent swimmers, using their wings to stroke the water with a flying motion to propel them along.
They have large feel that they use to steer, rather like the rudders on a boat and can dive down to depths of 200 feet or more to get a meal. Although they usually stay underwater for only 20 or 30 seconds they hunt small fish like herring or sand eels.
Puffins, although they prefer to ride the waves are incredibly fast fliers, and can flap their wings up to 400 times a minute and reach speeds of about 55-60 miles per hours in the air.
Puffins land on the coasts of North America, and in islands to breed ever spring and summer. Iceland is the place where about 60% of all Puffins breed.
They choose rocky cliffs or tops of rocky hills to build the nests which are lined with soft feathers and grass.
The female lays just one egg, and it is well guarded and kept warm by both male and female, who also take turns feeding and caring for the young.
When a chick hatches, its parents take turns feeding it by carrying small fish back to the nest in their bills.
Puffin couples often reunite at the same burrow site each year and mate again although it is unknown how they know where to go. Some believe they use visual reference points, others the moon or stars for navigation.