‘Cute’ may be the puffin’s defining feature, but don’t let it fool you, this little bird knows how to take care of itself, even in the cold waters around Newfoundland.

However, when the end of summer approaches, even the plucky puffin can use a little help.

A look inside a puffin box - Witless Bay

A look inside a puffin box – Witless Bay

In the coming weeks, thousands of young puffins will leave their nests on the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve in order to start their life on the open water. While most fledglings manage to find the ocean, some birds get disoriented by the lights on shore and end up in backyards and parking lots. Unable to take off from land, these young puffins are now stranded.

Thankfully, the Puffin Patrol comes to the rescue. Every night, their volunteers patrol the streets to find lost birds, which are captured with nets and then released the following morning.

If you want to get involved, or see a young puffin released on the beach, the Puffin Patrol’s Facebook page announces if and when any puffins will be released the following morning:

Puffins in boxes, lined up for release - Witless Bay

Puffins in boxes, lined up for release – Witless Bay

One last check before release - Witless Bay

One last check before release – Witless Bay

Puffin release - Witless Bay

Puffin release – Witless Bay

If you’re looking for something to do after the release, there’s a beautiful hiking trail that starts just up the road from the release site:

Release site in Witless Bay - map snippet from the East Coast Trail Guide

Release site in Witless Bay – map snippet from the East Coast Trail Guide

Mickeleens Path, as this 7 km stretch of the East Coast Trail is called, runs from Witless Bay to Bay Bulls and back again over an easy inland road (+3.2 km). If you’re interested, the East Coast Trail Guide describes this hike in great detail.