10 February 2011

Puffins: Newfoundland's Jesusbirds (part 3)

Jesusbird? The Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica (NL: papegaaiduiker) is a clumsy bird when it comes to taking off at sea. They need a very long runway for the take off, so it has to walk on water.

At Elliston, Newfoundland, you can observe hundreds of puffins. They are nestling on a few isolated islands. Just like the gannets in my last post they are protected by the sea and the height of the cliffs.

They seem to be excellent divers and are hunting for capelin (NL: lodde), Mallotus villosus, just like whales and other animals. Their young need fish like capelin.
In Northwest Europe puffins hunt for sandeels (NL: zandspiering and smelt), Ammodytes tobianus and Hyperoplus lanceolatus. These species resemble capelin. But because of warmer watertemperatures the sandeels are moving to more northern waters. So the puffins hunt for butterfish (NL: botervis), Pholis gunnellus. Not to the delight of the young puffin chick: they seem to choke in butterfish, because they are more leathery!