A Pair of Puffins
22 x 14 x 17 cm
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( Ceramic A Pair of Puffins – PUFF-C-001 )
Out of stock
A Pair of Puffins
The puffin is an unmistakable bird with its black back and white underparts, and distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and a tall, flattened, brightly-coloured bill. Its comical appearance is heightened by its red and black eye-markings and bright orange legs. Used as a symbol for books and other items, this clown among seabirds is one of the world’s favourite birds.
The puffin is one of the commonest seabirds in northern Europe. While the largest breeding populations are found in Iceland and Norway, the British Isles hold c. 10% of the worlds puffins.
The puffin is included on the Amber list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern. It is very vulnerable to adverse changes in the environment because its breeding population is concentrated on a small number of sites. There have also been large population declines over much of its European range.
The main threat to puffins is the changes in distribution and numbers of small fish, while ground predators (eg rat, mink, cat) introduced to breeding colonies and pollution are also serious hazards.
For instance, oil leaked from the Torrey Canyon in 1967 killed 85% of the French puffins. Because of their low reproductive rate, puffins can take decades to recover from this kind of incident.
Because the puffin is so widespread, the only realistic conservation measures are sustainable exploitation of the seas, a reduction in incidence of marine pollution, and preventing ground predators reaching nesting colonies.
The adult birds return to the colonies in late March or early April, and initially spend a long time on the sea in large flocks called rafts.
Where possible, the birds excavate a nesting burrow into the soil. Sometimes they will make use of Manx shearwater or rabbit burrows. Where burrowing is not possible, the birds nest under boulders or in cracks and cavities in cliffs.
The birds defend the nesting site and its immediate surround, and use it in subsequent years. Puffins lay only a single egg, in late April or early May. Both parents incubate it for 36-45 days, and they share the feeding duties until the chick is ready to fledge.
The fledging period is very variable, ranging from 34 to 60 days, depending on the area and year.
Adult birds desert their young shortly before they are ready to leave the nest. The timing of the breeding in puffin colonies is highly synchronised, and so the departure of all adults takes place within a few days.
The young birds leave their nest burrow and make their way to the sea, normally under cover of darkness to avoid predators.
Puffins usually reach breeding age at 5-6 years old, and often live for 20 years.