The word puffin is thought to be derived from the word ‘puff’ which refers to swollen. And it is the puffin chick that contributes best to this name because of its round, puffed look resulting from its dense cover of down feathers - an adaptation for retaining body heat while the parent is off fishing. Indeed, they resemble little puff balls with beak and feet. Puffins have also been called "clown of the ocean" and "sea parrot" because of their clown-like facial markings and colorful beak (more like that of toucans). The puffin’s scientific name, Fratercula arctica dates back to the last half of the 1800's. This name means "little brother of the north" in Latin. Little brother alludes to 'little friar' referring to the puffin's black and white plumage which is reminiscent of a friar's robes. A second connotation of little friar may be drawn from the puffin's sometime habit of holding it's feet together when taking off, suggestive of hands clasped together in prayer.
Adult puffins mostly eat small fish, such as sand eels, herring, hake and capelin. Puffin diets vary from colony to colony because of the variety of fish around the breeding islands. During winter puffins may also eat crustaceans, but their preferred food is fish. The young puffins are usually fed fish by their parents. Parents carry fish in their bills and either drop them on the burrow floor or pass them to the chick. Parents usually feed the chick several times each day. Puffins can carry several fish back to their nest at a time. The average catch is around 10 fish per trip but the record in Britain is a whopping 62 fish at once! The puffin’s beak is specialized to hold all these fish. The puffin’s raspy tongue holds fish against spines on the palate, while it opens its beak to catch more fish. A puffin can dive for up to a minute but most dives usually last 20 to 30 seconds. While underwater, the puffin swims by using its wings to push it along under the water almost as if it were flying, while using its feet as a rudder. A puffin can fly 48 to 55 mph (77 to 88 km/hr). The puffin beats its wings rapidly to achieve this speed reaching up to 400 beats a minute.
Ottawa pride! 🌈❄
Had a fun walk on Sparks Street to check out some of the fun activities happening on this beautiful last weekend of Winterlude.
Thanks to my friend @rockyoutofthering for letting me know about this cool CBC Ottawa sculpture - can you believe it's made out of ice?!