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The Kid Should See This

Puffling Patrol: Rescuing puffin chicks in Iceland

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For generations, children on Iceland’s Westman Islands have patrolled their villages during the late summer nights. Carrying flashlights and cardboard boxes, they scour the town, high and low, for pufflings—puffin chicks that are looking for the moonlight that will guide them to the ocean.

Instead, the chicks are confused by the town’s bright evening lights and get lost among the buildings, streets, and yards where there are no small fish for them to eat.

catching a puffling at night
The children and their families volunteer for this midnight mission to rescue the birds. And after an early morning health check with scientists at the local aquarium, the pufflings are set free along the beach.

a child with a puffling on the beach
This CBS Sunday Morning news report, posted in 2018, shares the tradition, as well as some of the additional challenges that the birds face. Some puffin background from the Audubon:

“Puffins live at sea and are well adapted to this lifestyle. They are excellent swimmers, using their wings to essentially ‘fly’ underwater while using their feet to control direction. They hunt a variety of small fish including herring, hake, capelin and sand lance. Puffins do not come to land outside of the breeding season, flying, swimming or riding the ocean surface throughout the year regardless of weather. They often feed far offshore and spend the entire winter at sea!”

This YouTube short by Iceland-based American Kyana Sue Powers shares the joyful parts of puffling season:


Related reading: Puffin FAQs.

Watch these handpicked videos next:
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160,000 puffins summer on the cliffs
Rescuing abandoned African penguin chicks
Rangers candle the Royal Albatross egg
Trying To Save The Red Crowned Cranes Of Japan

Plus: Videos about light pollution.

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