5 Things: The Atlantic Puffin

Colourful, tiny and feathered, that’s nearly all I knew about the Atlantic Puffin so, for this edition of 5 Things1, I thought it might be time to learn a little bit more about Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial bird. As it turns out, I’m glad I got to know them a little bit better. They are pretty cool little animals, the kind of birds you might not mind spending the occasional weekend with... but only the occasional weekend.

1) The Atlantic Puffin's latin name is Fratercula arctica. Fratercula means "little brother" or "friar" and is probably a reference to their black and white colouration. It would not seem to be in reference to their behaviour which, I've got to say, is not very monk-like.

2) The Atlantic Puffin is known to slip into something 'a little more comfortable' when it's in the mood. It looks strikingly different in mating season. So different, in fact, it was once thought to be two different birds. During mating season the birds develop bright coloured patches on their cheeks but once mating season is over the colour disappears. Any one who's ever stuck around for breakfast the ‘morning after’ can probably relate.2

3) But the Atlantic Puffin does stick around. A breeding pair will lay a single egg that the male and female take turns incubating.

4. It's not all Leave it to Beaver, though. Whichever parent is not egg sitting is probably at the fights. Puffins are fighters and, not only do they like to knock ‘em down and drag ‘em out themselves, they like to have ring-side seats when their neighbours do it. The fighting is called 'billing'. These events often draw a crowd so if you want tickets you better queue early.

5) Fortunately, you wouldn't have far to go -- 60 percent of North America's Atlantic Puffins breed in Witless Bay. That’s a whole lot of questionable activity right on our doorstep.

There you go, that's 5 Things you may or may not have known about Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial bird, the Atlantic puffin.
1. A series of articles in which I try to expand my knowledge by learning 5 interesting facts about a topic. 
2.You know what I'm talking about.

I’m a curious guy.  I always want to know more about the world and my place in it. The 5 Things pieces are an attempt to answer some of those questions. I set my sights on a topic, try to learn a little about it, and share what I've found.

Obviously, I’m no expert on the subject but I’ll never knowingly lead you astray.


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