Traveling north into Canada, LazyPaw Animal Hospitals is getting the first Passport stamp on our virtual ecological world tour. Granted, the first animal on our Bingo card is all the way on the east coast, but when a world tour is free to dream about, you can bounce around as much as you want without paying airline change fees or suffering jetlag. So, to the Atlantic Ocean we go!
Atlantic puffins are one of four puffin species, but they’re the only one that resides on the North Atlantic Ocean. The small sea birds are only about 10 inches long.
Puffins’ small shape, cute curved beaks, clownish eyes, and bright coloring have made them popular for years on calendars and posters. However, most people don’t know that when puffins aren’t in the midst of breeding season, they shed their thick, vibrant beaks of orange, blue, and yellow in favor of a smaller, duller beak. They also lose lots of the feathers on their heads, giving them the look of a much more average bird.
The puffin, like penguins, are star swimmers. In fact, they hardly fly—when they do go airborne, puffins often crash land and tumble into the grass. They spend most of their time swimming and diving and come to land to breed and raise hatchlings for a few months out of the year. Puffins are skilled swimmers and divers and can often come to the surface with six small fish at a time hanging from their bills. Favorite foods include herring, hake, capelin, and eels.
Birds live about 20 years, and for the most part stick with one soul mate throughout their lives. When puffins are ready to breed at about four or five years of age, they dig nests three feet in the ground with their sharp bills and clawed feet.
Puffins live in colonies and are social creatures. When puffins get into a skirmish, curious onlookers crowd around to watch. Babies will “peep” for food from parents, and adults make noisy growls that some have described as a chainsaw sound. Puffins will rub their thick bills against one another in a nuzzle, a way of showing affection, which can also draw crowds of other puffins eager to watch the show.