Originally uploaded by pmchugh

The little puffin is called a puffling. Baby puffins. =)

Aren’t they sweet? I mean aside from the hands that look like they are crushing it, (they are not! the birds are not harmed!)

Pufflings take about 39-43 days to hatch. Once born it takes about a week before it can maintain its own body temperature. During this week it depends on its parents to keep it nice and warm. Typically, one parent stays near and holds it under its wing close to them to stay toasty warm and the other goes out to find some food. After about 10-12 days the little pufflings start to get their wing feathers.

When it is time to eat the little puffling knows because the parent not keeping it warm will call out to it and leave it a few fish on the floor to eat deep within the burrow to protect it from light.

Pufflings do not like light much until they are full fledged (able to take care of themselves). I am not sure why but this light sensitivity ensures that the pufflings stay deep in their burrow safe from other seabirds and predators. Actually, if a burrow is not deep enough and a direct source of light is around the egg or chick while it is being incubated their chances of survival are much lower.

Pufflings can count on their parents to feed them until about 34-60 days. Towards the end of this period, their parents are feeding them about ten times a day! Hungry little birds, aren’t they? However, if there is not a lot of food the pufflings will need their parents to feed them longer.

Once it is completely fledge, the little puffling will head out to sea late at night when predators are least likely to be around. This usually goes fairly well. They simply jump into the water and off they go but sometimes the lights and commotion of the people in towns nearby confuses the poor little pufflings and then they wander towards land instead of sea. Luckily, most of these little confused wanderers are rescued by local people and returned to the sea. Other pufflings never make it because predatory birds such as the black-backed gulls and rats and arctic foxes and bald eagles find them before they make it out to sea. How sad for these little guys!

I posted a video from National Geographic which shows the Puffin’s journey out to sea
. You can also read all about how the little local boys and girls save the pufflings who wander into town in this book:

Night of the Pufflings by Bruce McMillan

Night of the Pufflings by Bruce McMillan

Angel, Heather. Puffins. New York: Evans Mitchell Books, 2007.
Taylor, Kenny. Puffins. New York: Voyageur P, Incorporated, 1999.