Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ireland - Colorful Atlantic Puffin

Colorful Atlantic Puffin.

Sent by Sarka from Dublin, Ireland.

This is from Wikipedia : The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) is a seabird species in the auk family. It is a pelagic bird that feeds primarily by diving for fish, but also eats other sea creatures, such as squid and crustaceans. Its most obvious characteristic during the breeding season is its brightly coloured bill. Also known as the Common Puffin, it is the only puffin species which is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The curious appearance of the bird, with its colourful huge bill and its striking piebald plumage, has given rise to nicknames such as '"clown of the ocean" and "sea parrot"

The Atlantic Puffin is 26–29 centimetres (10–11 in) in length (bill 3–4 cm), with a 47–63 centimetres (19–25 in) wingspan. The male is generally slightly larger than the female, but they are coloured alike. This bird is mainly black above and white below, with grey to white cheeks and red-orange legs. The bill is large and triangular and during the breeding season is bright orange with a patch of blue bordered by yellow at the rear. The characteristic bright orange bill plates grow before the breeding season and are shed after breeding. The bills are used in courtship rituals, such as the pair tapping their bills together. During flight, it appears to have grey round underwings and a white body; it has a direct flight low over the water. The related Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) from the North Pacific looks very similar but has slightly different head ornaments.

The Atlantic Puffin is typically silent at sea, except for soft purring sounds it sometimes makes in flight. At the breeding colonies, its commonest call is a trisyllabic kaa-aar-aar and the birds make a short growl when startled.

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