WTF Fun Fact 13158 – Baby Puffins

Baby puffins are called pufflings. How adorable is that?

A stranger fact about baby puffins

Ok, now that you know pufflings exist, did you know that on Iceland’s Westman Islands (aka Vestmannaeyjar), puffling season means throwing the animals off cliffs? We promise it’s not what it sounds like.

People do it to save their lives.

According to NPR:

“The chicks of Atlantic puffins, or pufflings, hatch in burrows on high sea cliffs. When they’re ready to fledge, they fly from their colony and spend several years at sea until they return to land to breed, according to Audubon Project Puffin. Pufflings have historically found the ocean by following the light of the moon… Now, city lights lead the birds astray.”

Now, some of the residents of Vestmannaeyjar “spend a few weeks in August and September collecting wayward pufflings that have crashed into town after mistaking human lights for the moon. Releasing the fledglings at the cliffs the following day sets them on the correct path.”

So they don’t chuck them off cliffs (although some may toss them less gently than need be) – they just lead them back to where they belong (or have a better chance of surviving). It’s amazing how light pollution can disrupt an ecosystem!

Puffling lives

Since a pair of puffins mates for life but only raise one egg per season, the loss of a whole generation could be devastating to their populations.

You could even get a chance to help save the pufflings if there’s a colony around you. Their seasons will depend on food supplies and light conditions.

If you decide to go on Puffin Patrol, it’s best to search for them at night with a flashlight in places where they might find food. It sounds like a great reason to go on vacation from August through September!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Puffin Chicks” — Audobon Project

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