The puffin belongs to the marine diving bird family. He is also called Puffin. It lives exclusively in the northern hemisphere in countries such as Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Norway, and Canada. Because there are so many puffins in Iceland, he is the mascot of Iceland. In Germany, you can discover it on the North Sea island of Heligoland.
Puffins have strong bodies, short necks, and thick heads. The beak is triangular in shape when viewed from the side. The neck, top of the head, back, and top of the wings are black. The chest and abdomen are white. Its legs are orange-red. Adult animals are 25 to 30 centimeters tall and can weigh up to 500 grams. That’s about as heavy as a pizza. Because of its appearance, it is also known as the “Clown of the Air” or “Sea Parrot”.
How does the puffin live?
Puffins live in colonies. This means they live in large groups consisting of up to two million animals. They are migratory birds that fly to the warm south in winter.
The search for a partner begins on the open sea, where they also spend most of their lives. After finding a mate, they fly ashore to search for a nesting hole in the cliffs. If there is no free breeding hole, they dig themselves a hole in the ground on the rocky coast.
When the nest is complete, the female lays an egg. The parents protect it from many dangers because puffins only lay one egg per year. They take turns incubating the egg and caring for the chick together. The chicks mainly get sandeels as food. It stays in the nest for 40 days before it learns to fly and leaves.
What does the puffin eat and who eats it?
Puffins eat small fish, rarely crabs and squid. To hunt, they plunge down at speeds of up to 88 km/h, dive into the water, and snatch their prey. When they dive, they move their wings much like we humans move our arms when we swim. Measurements have shown that puffins can dive up to 70 meters deep. The record for a puffin underwater is just under two minutes. The puffin is also fast over the water. It flaps its wings up to 400 times per minute and can travel at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.
Puffins have many enemies, including birds of prey like the great black-backed gull. Foxes, cats, and ermines can also be dangerous to them. Humans are also among the enemies because in some areas the puffin is hunted and eaten. If not eaten, they can live up to 25 years.
The World Conservation Organization IUCN indicates which animal species are endangered. They could become extinct because there are fewer and fewer of them. Since 2015, puffins have also been considered endangered.