Pufflings!

Top two photos: very young Pufflings

Bottom two photos: Fledged Pufflings (which will not happen until late June)

Wednesday 1st June comments: Welcome to a new month and welcome to Puffling season! The first Puffin chicks started hatching from 20th May although we still have plenty to hatch over the next few weeks.

Young Puffin chicks are known as a Puffling’s and will remain underground through the first forty days of life, otherwise there is a risk it will be predated by large predatory Gulls if it ventures outside when the chick is this young. Throughout the feeding stage, both adults will actively prey on sand-eels, the species favoured prey items, from first light (4am) through until dusk (busy days for both parents). The bill of a Puffin is well adapted to grip a row of sandeels (its favoured prey) as the upper and lower mandibles come together in a parallel fashion to exert equal pressure along the whole length of the bill. The bill also has small spines facing in, called denticles, which allow the fish to be held and hence why a Puffin can catch more than one fish at once (apparently the record is 61 sandeels in one fishing trip).

Chicks can gain 10g of body weight per day but after four weeks will take on 80g of fish per day (25% of its body weight). Eventually after 38-44 days (Pufflings will be 70-80% of adult body weight by the time they fledge). So that is the story of the Pufflings but as mentioned, you won’t see them as they remain safely underground but that doesn’t matter, because we have thousands of adults above ground!

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