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July 2006: Puffins on the coast of Iceland

Puffin Community
Puffins are the most common bird in Iceland, although actually seeing them can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. They spend most of their lives at sea, only visiting the shore for a couple months to raise a single chick on mostly steep, grassy cliffsides facing the ocean.
Hanging Out
The birds not only look like clowns, they act like them too. They're not really made for life on solid ground - they don't walk very well, and often crash land. They're not the most efficient fliers either - often having trouble taking-off from water, and needing to rapidly beat their wings to stay aloft (whereas most seabirds can soar). But, under the water they're formidable fishers, often returning to land with bunches of little fish stuffed into their bills.
Gone For a Swim
The Puffin's bills are only colorful during the breeding season. The rest of the year, they're a drab grayish color.
On the Rocks
In mid-August, after about 6 weeks of living in a burrow, young pufflings make their first flight out to sea, and immediately begin a life on their own. They may not return to land to breed for a number of years.

Where is it?

Puffins are common all along the Icelandic coast (and in many other parts of northern oceans). All these photos were taken just north of Húsavík, in the north of Iceland.

Before you go...
The Puffins nest from June through mid/late-August. That's really the only time they can be observed.

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