Maine's Atlantic Puffins

Monday, December 11, 2017 by Jessica

Atlantic puffins, also known as sea parrots, are small seabirds that spend most of their lives out at sea, either swimming or resting on top of waves. Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States, with more than 4,000 Atlantic puffins coming to nest there each summer. This year was a really good year for the population, with a high number of birds being present on the islands, and heavy pufflings, which is the name for the chicks. Researchers think that one important reason for the high number of birds this year is the availability of food. Adult puffins eat mostly small fish like herring, hake and sandlance.  Puffins need to use their extraordinary swimming skills and webbed feet to dive down under the water and catch the fish to eat. On average, puffins carry around 10 fish at a time in their beaks back from the ocean to their nests.

Although puffins are not an endangered species, they are rare in the state of Maine, and are listed by the state as a threatened species. In Maine, the populations are considered to be very vulnerable to outside pressures such as overfishing, which depletes their food source, and pollution that can harm both the birds and the habitat that they need to survive. The possibility of Atlantic puffin numbers decreasing again mean that we need to continue our conservation efforts to keep their populations healthy! If you want to learn more about Atlantic puffin conservation in Maine, check out the link below to Project Puffin’s website! Have you ever gotten the chance to see a puffin the wild? What do you know about these cool seabirds?

Maine's Atlantic Puffins


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