Puffin

The puffin is Iceland’s most common bird with a population of eight to ten million. It is also the best known member of the auk family. It is remarkable for its coloured, parrot like beak, which gives it a comical appearance, and for its upright, dignified stance that gave it the nickname of Prófastur, meaning The Dean. However, as author T. A. Coward stated, ‘it is not the patri-coloured bill, nor the black and white plumage, or the upright carriage or the orange legs that give the Puffin its quaint look, but it’s the eye’. Once known as the Sea Parrot, the puffin’s eye is set deeply above the round, full cheeks, from which a conspicuous groove curves backwards. Around the eye there is a crimson ring, above it a small, triangular, blue, horny plate and below it a similarly coloured bar.

These birds do not build nests, instead they dig holes up to 1.5 metres (five feet) deep. It is currently breeding season and so the birds are sporting their colourful red, yellow and blue beaks as they reunite with their partners and return to the same burrows they used last year. These nests have been dug by both the male and the female by scratching at the earth with their strong legs and six millimetre (1/4 inch) claws. During the second half of May a single egg will be laid and around 40 days later the chick will hatch. Both parents will feed the chick for about 40 days and after this time they will leave, forcing the chick to make its own way to the water to hunt for fish.

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Puffin

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