Saturday, February 12, 2011

Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffins
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Charadriiformes
Family : Alcidae
Genus : Fratercula
Species : arctica

Height : 10in(25cm)
Weight : 18oz (500g)
Wingspan : 25in (63cm)

IUCN Status : Least Concern

Atlantic Puffins spend their entire lives in and around the water, but unlike penguins, they can actually fly! In fact, they are even pretty quick on the wing, and can reach speeds of up to 55mph (88kph). At the name suggests, Atlantic Puffins live in areas around the North Atlantic Ocean, including New England, Greenland, and many areas in Northern Europe. Iceland is especially full of Puffins during the breeding season; it is estimated that 60% of all Puffins congregate there each spring and summer.

Puffin carrying food for its young
Atlantic Puffins are amazing swimmers as well at flyers. They hunt their fishy prey by swimming over open water and diving in for the catch. They can dive down as far as 200ft (61m), using their wings to swim and their feet to steer. They eat fish and marine invertebrates, often feeding right there underwater. When it has a chick to feed, the Atlantic Puffin can carry up to 30 small fish back in its beak.

Puffin pairs mate for life, and return to the same nesting spot year after year. They lay only one egg at a time, and both parents incubate, feed, and care for their chick. Puffins wait 3-6 years before their first breeding, and can live as long as 30.

Atlantic Puffins have been hunted for centuries, and actually became rare in some areas, though the population as a whole has never been majorly threatened. They were recently reintroduced to areas in Maine, and that colony is now doing well. Puffins are still hunted and eaten in many areas.

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