The Narrow Beak

Puffin_Staffa_IslandFit for purpose, the bill of the puffin is narrowly shaped, designed to cleave through water.  But useful too in building it’s nesting burrow by cutting through the soil and then shovelling away the material with it’s feet.  It has a raspy tongue, an adaptation which enables it to hold multiple fish.  The fish are pinned  against the spines on the palate while allowing it to open its beak.  What a charismatic species.  We were fortunate to observe the colony on Lunga Island (Inner Hebrides), Scotland.

WPC: Narrow

15 thoughts on “The Narrow Beak

    1. The Hebrides Trust keeps a population census and apparently the colony on Lunga is doing well compared to other areas – ‘Breeding adults occupied burrows on Lunga and Sgeir a’ Chaisteil. The estimated breeding population on Lunga and Sgeir a’ Chaisteil was 3,165 apparently occupied burrows (AOBs). For counts of birds, one bird is taken to represent one AOB (Mitchell et al. 2004). Numbers have since 2004 fluctuated between 2,423 and 3,165 AOBs with the exception of the comparatively low estimates of the two years 2010- 2011; 1,705 and 1,611 AOBs respectively.
      The RSPB also keeps a tally on what’shappe

  1. Brilliant birds and so obliging when it comes to posing for photographs! My favourite place to see them is Skomer Island where you can get very close to them, but poor things have to run the gamut of gulls when they fly back in from the sea with food for pufflings.One theory for their decline is that their main food is sand eels which favour cold water so they may be scarcer as the sea warms up.

    1. Thanks for this interesting info, Theresa. Sad that their numbers are declining. So many insiduous effects happening through warming temperatures. The Pembrokeshire area and islands sound excellent for observing seabirds. I came across a neat blogsite of a PHD student doing research on Skomer and geotagging puffins. Her findings on their fly-routes and different wintering destinations were interesting.

  2. Sounds like a fascinating project, I believe there are still a lot of gaps in the knowledge of the whereabouts of Puffins when they leave UK breeding sites. The other avian iconic breeders of Skomer are the Manx Shearwaters – they have been tracked back to the South Atlantic, off the coasts of Brazil & Argentina (and some to SW South Africa) when they leave for the winter. Incredible!

    1. Neat how much data can be gathered using tracking devices and can define the routes and distances of these extraordinary long distance birds. Hope to read up more on Skomer’s avian records.

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