A number of years ago I took a walking/hiking tour of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska that was truly outstanding. Glaciers, icebergs, moose, bald eagles and bears oh my and so much more. I also saw in person for the first time a bird that instantly stole my heart – the puffin. Let me give you a bit of background before I share some of the photos.
According to some articles I have read The word “puffin” is thought to be derived from the word ‘puff.’ The puffin chick is indeed a round, puffy baby with dense down feathers, but since many baby birds have this feature I am not sure this is a good explanation – I will keep looking and if I find a more fitting one I will update this post. The puffin’s scientific name, Fratercula arctica makes a bit more sense – it means “little friar of the north.”. Their black and white plumage is a bit like a friar’s robes, but frankly it too is bit of a stretch.
There are 4 species of puffins, The Atlantic, the Horned, the Tufted and the Rhinoceros Auklet, which frankly doesn’t look like its cousins at all – here is a shot of it from the internet – I have photos of some the others which you will see in a moment:
There are about 4 million or so pairs of puffins in the world (they mate for life) and although they are not endangered, their numbers have been affected by humans, climate and loss of habitat. They only lay one egg per year and are eco conscious, since they use the same nest each year, unless it has been destroyed.
Puffins are true seabirds. While their flying is a little clumsy due to their chubby bodies and short wings, they are actually excellent swimmers.
What I love most about these birds are their personalities – they are natural clowns with a perfectly painted face to match their merriment. In fact they are often called “clowns of the sea.” They are very social and live in large colonies which also provide safety from predators.
Let’s now take a look.
Here is one who graciously gave me both profiles – the right side shown in top photo of post:
This coy fellow played hide and seek with me:
And this one, after continually coming over and splashing me, laughed in my wet face:
And finally, to show it was all in good fun gave me a happy dance:
I want one.