Atlantic Puffin

1/125s at f8.0, ISO:800, Canon Mark III 1Ds w/800mm, 1.4x converter

The Atlantic Puffin 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. This species breeds on the coasts of northern Europe, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and eastern North America, from well within the Arctic Circle to northern France and Maine. The winter months are spent at sea far from land - in Europe as far south as the Mediterranean, and in North America to North Carolina. About 95% of the Atlantic puffins in North America breed around Newfoundland's coastlines. The largest puffin colony in the western Atlantic (estimated at more than 260,000 pairs) can be found at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, south of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Feeding areas are often located 100 km (60 mi) offshore from the nest or more, though when provisioning for the 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, zooplankton, fish (shellfish), 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. Puffins normally 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. Atlantic Puffins are colonial nesters, using burrows on grassy cliffs. 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. Mates are found prior to arriving at the colonies, and mating takes place at sea. The Atlantic Puffin is sexually mature at the age of 45 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 3945 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