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Europe
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Shared by : Arushi Madan (UK)
Habitat : North Atlantic Ocean
Status : Listed as vulnerable to extinction globally
Introduction
ONE of Britain’s most popular birds, the puffin, has suffered such severe declines in recent years that it is now classed as globally endangered. They are known as clowns of the sea due to their colourful beaks and clown-like faces. Puffins are pelagic seabirds that feed primarily by diving in the water. They breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, nesting in crevices among rocks or in burrows in the soil. Numbers of puffins on the UK’s remote Farne Islands may be down 12% in the last five years. Five-yearly count on the islands off the Northumberland coast, indicate the population is down 42% on one of the islands. One of the most distinctive features of Atlantic puffins is their bill which is coloured bright orange during spring. Apart from this, they have orange legs and red and black markings around their eyes. Sometimes referred to as sea parrots, they spend most of their time out at sea and feed on small fish. Although the puffins are vocal at their breeding colonies, they are silent at sea. They fly relatively high above the water, typically 10 m (33 ft) as compared with the 1.6 m (5.2 ft) of other auks.
Appearance
The puffins are stocky, short-winged and short-tailed birds, with black upper parts and white or brownish-grey underparts. The head has a black cap, the face is mainly white, and the feet are orange-red. The bill appears large and colourful during the breeding season. The colourful outer part of the bill is shed after the breeding season, revealing a smaller and duller true bill beneath. All puffin species have predominantly black or black and white plumage, a stocky build, and large beaks. They shed the colourful outer parts of their bills after the breeding season, leaving a smaller and duller beak. Their short wings are adapted for swimming with a flying technique under water. In the air, they beat their wings rapidly (up to 400 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over the ocean's surface. hickset neck. It has a white head and underside, grey wings and grey-yellow beak. Fulmars are identifiable by the prominent, tubular nostrils on top of their bills.
Distribution and habitat
Atlantic puffin is found in the North Atlantic Ocean. North Atlantic: coasts of northern Europe south to northern France, the British Isles, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Atlantic Canada then south to Maine. Winters south to Morocco and New York. Some of the best places to see puffins in the UK are Lundy Island and South Stack Cliffs.
Threats
THE much-loved puffin is faced by so many threats that it is being given the same conservation status as the giant panda, tiger and blue whale. Britain's much-loved puffin is now as endangered as PANDAS and TIGERS Endangered puffins, with their comical gait and brightly-coloured bills, are falling victim to a combination of over-fishing and climate change, sending their numbers down faster than they can dive. Climate change could be contributing to food shortages and extreme weather hitting the birds, while they could also be threatened by overfishing, invasive predators such as rats on some islands and marine pollution.
Drastic changes in the marine ecosystem
Conservation Actions Underway
because of climate change is believed to be greatly hurting the population of puffins and other seabirds. Water temperatures are causing a decline in planktons which is the primary food of small fish like sand eels. Due to this, the number of sand eels, which is the staple food of puffins, is dropping as well. With little food available for them, the breeding success of puffins is significantly affected. In addition, newly born chicks end up starving due to food shortage.
Conservation measures
Currently, experts are working together to better understand puffin behaviours and breeding patterns. There is also an ongoing initiative to track them and their feeding areas. By doing this, conservationists are hoping to device strategies to protect these areas for puffins to have ample food supply. The National Trust, which has been looking after the islands for 93 years, is stepping up monitoring of the seabirds to better understand what is going on.

Sources/References :
https://findingnature.co.uk/endangered-animals-britain/
https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/790204/puffins-globally-endangered-birds-severe-decline
https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/581861/Puffin-endangered-pandas-tigers
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/puffin-numbers-on-farne-islands-may-be-down-national-trust-warns-11364273814023

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