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Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Clown Of The Ocean

Atlantic Puffin returning with sand-eels to feed the single chick - image credit 

The Atlantic Puffin is the most colorful auk in North Atlantic, with a large and triangular bill that during the breeding season is red, blue and yellow. It fades in the summer when its outer scales are shed. This bird is mainly black above and white below, with grey to white cheeks and bright red-orange legs and feet. The male is in general slightly larger than the female, but they are colored alike. The curious look of the bird, with its colorful bill and its outstanding piebald plumage, has given rise to nicknames such as '"clown of the ocean" and "sea rooster" 

The Atlantic Puffin is sexually mature at the age of 4 to 5 years. When nesting, the Puffin excavates a burrow deep in the ground. The burrow is often lined with feathers, seaweed or plant matter. Both parents incubate the single-egg (which is produced each year) and rear the young, carrying many small fish, packed cross-wide into their bills, back to the burrow for it to eat. 

These Puffins can dive to depths of up to 70m (200ft) to find the shoaling fish that are its main food. These include sand eels, herring capelins, and sprats which are supplemented by animal plankton in winter.

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