Adult Puffins and their burrows - Pee Pee Island, Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Adult Puffins and their burrows – Pee Pee Island, Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Yes, those are Puffins, so cute! Everybody has seen them here before, but did you know these little birds sometimes need our help?

When Puffin chicks are old enough to leave their burrows, they fly out at night towards the open ocean, there they will spend the first years of their lives. Some of the chicks get lost on the initial flight though, they should fly towards the moon, but on foggy nights they get confused and are attracted by brighter lights on the coast. When they land there, they have no way of taking off again, Puffins can only take off from their hillside burrows or the open ocean…

This is where the Puffin Patrol comes in, halfway through August these volunteers start going out every night to look for lost Puffin chicks that have landed in backyards, convenience store parking lots, or just by the roadside. They catch these Puffins and release them the following morning, usually from the beach in Witless Bay.

Today the water on that beach was too rough for release though, so we had two chicks released from the boat:

Puffin chick - Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Puffin chick – Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Here, Lori from the Puffin Patrol is carefully holding a young chick called Molly, named after the boat we were on, Molly Bawn.

Puffin chick - Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Puffin chick – Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Lori has her sleeve over her hand because Puffins are feisty and won’t hesitate to bite the hand that rescues them.

And this is the release, with a gentle toss it is free once again, this time out on the ocean where it belongs:

Puffin Patrol, chick release - Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Puffin Patrol, chick release – Witless Bay Ecological Reserve