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PHOTOS: The Secret Lives of Puffins

Puffins are one of the features of the June issue of National Geographic.

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Puffins are small birds that spend most of their lives at sea.

June 2014 issue of National Geographic
National Geographic.
The June 2014 issue of National Geographic has a feature on puffins.

Puffins. Fratercula arctica. "Sea parrots,” as they’ve been nicknamed. These 7-inch-tall birds with their colorful beaks (during the breeding season) are the subject of the June 2014 issue of National Geographic in the article "Puffin Therapy,” which features beautiful photos from photographer Danny Green.

Here’s an excerpt from the June issue of National Geographic magazine:

"Ah, but spring. It’s like carnival time for puffins. Breeding is the only excuse for these seabirds to go on land. They become intensely social, courting, mating, tussling. Assemblages vary from a few hundred pairs in Maine to tens of thousands in Iceland. The British Isles, scene of Danny Green’s photographs, attract about 10 percent of an estimated 20 million Atlantic puffins (nobody really knows), with Iceland claiming almost half.”

Puffins, like many birds, are suffering from population declines. Their favorite foods — small fish and eels — are harder and harder to find each year. This effects how often puffins breed and raise chicks without enough food, how can they feed their babies? While many birds skip breeding season every now and then, there’s only so many years you can go without raising babies before the entire population suffers.

Puffins
© Danny Green/National Geographic
This image of a puffin eyeing its realm at the Hermaness Reserve in the Shetland Islands is from the June issue of National Geographic. Puffins burrow near cliff edges for quick access to the sea, watching out for gulls and other seabirds that steal their food.

This is a topic the June 2014 National Geographic article touches on, along with giving you a glimpse at the private lives of puffins. Since these birds are only on land for a short time — since they spend so much time out of sea nesting time is the great time to study them, and one of the few chances you'll get to see them in the wild.

Puffins
© Danny Green/National Geographic
It’s called billing: the rubbing and clacking of beaks when puffins court. On Skomer Island in Wales a pair displays the grooved orange beak and bright eye ring of breeding puffins. This picture is featured in the June 2014 issue of National Geographic.

Learn more about the June issue of National Geographic here. For more about puffins, check out the National Geographic profile.

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Posted: May 21, 2014, 7:15 a.m. PDT

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PHOTOS: The Secret Lives of Puffins

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Reader Comments
Puffins are neat birds
n, n, TN
Posted: 5/23/2014 10:58:11 AM
Puffins are my favorite bird. Lovely photos. I must get a copy of the magazine. Thanks.
Carol, Silver Spring, MD
Posted: 5/21/2014 6:51:09 PM
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