ATLANTIC

PUFFINS

ATLANTIC

PUFFINS

BREEDING SEASON

Atlantic puffins spend the majority of the year out on the open ocean, only coming to dry land during the breeding season. At the end of April, puffins begin to come ashore in the UK. The birds have a relatively long lifespan, reaching the age of around 20 years, and return to the same burrow every year to raise a single chick. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating and feeding equally. Our summer visitors will return to their aquatic home after chicks fledge in July and return in the following spring.

During the colder months, their bills are grey, then during the breeding season, both sexes acquire their instantly recognisable colourful orange beaks. It is believed that a beak that is bigger and more colourful is a sign of good health, which makes it more appealing as a mate.

At this time of year, their main food source is sand eels, which gather in large schools just off the coast. Their hungry chicks require a constant food supply and parents will take it in turn to head out to sea fishing.

They are efficient hunters carrying multiple fish in their beaks at one time. The joints are notched meaning they can easily cling on to a catch even while diving back in, open-mouthed searching for more. Gulls can snatch a catch mid air or as they’re landing, so they need to keep their eyes peeled for their ruthless neighbours.

Atlantic puffins spend much of the year out on the open ocean, only coming to dry land during the breeding season. Here is the UK puffins start coming ashore at the end of April. They are relatively long lived birds, reaching ages of around 20 years and return to the same burrow each year to raise a single chick. Parental duties of incubating and feeding are shared equally between both parents. Chicks will fledge in July and our summer visitors will return to their aquatic home until their return in the following spring. During the colder months, their bills are grey, then during the breeding season, both sexes acquire their instantly recognisable colourful orange beaks.

At this time of year, their main food source is sand eels, which gather in large schools just off the coast. Their hungry chicks require a constant food supply and parents will take it in turn to head out to sea fishing. They are efficient hunters carrying multiple fish in their beaks at one time. The joints are notched meaning they can easily cling on to a catch even while diving back in, open-mouthed searching for more.

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