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Feeding time for the young puffin

Picture taken in the island of Grimsey. Grimsey Island - far away in the north: the home of one hundred people - and one million seabids.

This is a close-up of an adult coming back from fishing and bringing back food to his chick. Feeding areas are often located 100 kilometers offshore from the nest or more, though when provisioning young the birds venture out only half that distance. Atlantic Puffins can dive for distances of up to 70 m (200 ft) and are propelled by their powerful wings, which are adapted for swimming. They use their webbed feet as a rudder while submerged. Puffins collect several small fish, such as herring, sprats and sand eels, when hunting. They use their tongues to hold the fish against spines in their palate, leaving their beaks free to open and catch more fish. A popular, but untrue, story claims that puffins neatly line up the fish in their bills with the heads facing alternate ways. Additional components of their diet are crustaceans and mollusks. A puffin can sometimes have a dozen or more fish in its beak at once.

The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) is a seabird species in the auk family. It is a pelagic bird that feeds primarily by diving for fish, but also eats other sea creatures, such as squid and crustaceans. Its most obvious characteristic is its brightly colored beak during the breeding seasons. Also known as the Common Puffin, it is the only puffin species which is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The curious appearance of the bird, with its colorful huge bill and its striking piebald plumage, has given rise to nicknames such as "clown of the ocean" and "sea parrot".

The Atlantic Puffin is typically silent at sea, except for soft purring sounds it sometimes makes in flight. At the breeding colonies the birds make a deep growl.

Atlantic Puffins are colonial nesters, using burrows on grassy cliffs. They will also nest amongst rocks. Male puffins perform most of the work of clearing out the nest area, which is sometimes lined with grass, feathers or seaweed. The only time spent on land is to nest, and mates are found prior to arriving at the colonies.

The Atlantic Puffin is sexually mature at the age of 4–5 years. The species is monogamous and has biparental care. A single-egg clutch is produced each year, and incubation responsibilities are shared between both parents. Total incubation time is around 39–45 days, and the chick takes about 49 days to fledge. At fledging, the chick leaves the burrow alone, and flies/swims out to sea, usually during the evening. Contrary to popular belief, young puffins are not abandoned by their parents.

I love those birds and you can see more of my pictures at:
An Iceland Icone ; A Flying couple ; A Family picture ; Puffin World

Picture published in: DETAY M., DETAY A.-M. — Islande - splendeurs et colθres d’une ξle. Belin Ed. 208 p. (2010). ISBN 978-2-7011-5762-7

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Additional Photos by Michel Detay (mdetay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 487 W: 1 N: 1045] (4929)
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