Regarding those photogenic cute puffins

Photo by OscarV055 via Wikimedia Commons

The distinctive seafaring bird is on any serious bird-watcher’s bucket list. Here are some things to know.

  1. They don’t make muffins, contrary to the children’s ditty.
  2. Apart from their nesting time on North Atlantic or Pacific cliffs, they spend all their life at sea, resting on the waves when they’re not flying. They’re essentially an arctic bird, though they come south to breed. Considering where I’m living, maybe I’ll take the boat tour and see some, too, if the outings aren’t already booked solid.
  3. These birds can dive underwater for a full minute and are fabulous swimmers.
  4. As a group, they’re a colony, a puffinry, a circus, a burrow, a gathering, or – get this – an improbability.
  5. They’re quite social, with one colony in Iceland reported to have more than a million nests.
  6. They can flap their wings in a blur of 400 times a minute, reaching a flying speed of 55 miles an hour. At least they’ll evade cops with radar guns.
  7. Two opponents in flight can lock beaks and then beat at each other with their wings and feet. OK, that’s ugly but still impressive.
  8. They generally stay with the same mate for life, returning to the same burrow nest.
  9. Sometimes they’re called Sea Parrots or Clowns of the Sea.
  10. A puffin’s beak changes color during the year.


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