Thursday, January 29, 2009
Puffins, sometimes referred to as bottlenoses or sea parrots, comprise three species of birds (common, horned, and tufted puffins: Fratercula artica, F. corniculata, and Lunda cirrhata) in the family Alcidae, order Charadriliformes. Their closest relative, the rhinoceros auklet, Cerorchinca monocerata, does not have the large, triangular-shaped, laterally compressed, and sculputured bill typical of puffins. Puffins are compactly built, about 30 cm (12 in) tall, and their three front toes are webbed. They feed by diving for marine organisms.
Puffins are found along seacoasts and on Islands in the northern oceans, nesting in colonies of as many as 50,000 inhabitants. Total world population of the birds is about 15 million. The puffins usually nest in burrows or caves and lay a single white egg. Both eggs and adult birds are used as a human food resource.
The common Atlantic puffin is considered by sailor to be a land indicator: if three or more are sighed, land is likely within 240 km (160 mil). Once threatened by extinction is the United States, puffins from Canada have been used to reestablish breeding colonies in Marine.