Atlantic puffin, Iceland
© Peter Hering/Minden Picture
It's puffling season!. Atlantic puffin, Iceland
Meet the Atlantic puffin! Known as 'sea parrots' or 'clowns of the sea,' about 60% of all Atlantic puffins nest on the coasts of Iceland. If you visit between June and September, you might see baby puffins being flung off a cliff. Do not be alarmed! It's part of puffling season, a yearly tradition on Iceland's Westman Islands, home of the largest puffin colony in the world. Residents search with a flashlight for lost or wayward pufflings—baby puffins—around cliffs, harbors, and the seaside area. They pick them up with gloved hands, take them to a cliff before sundown, and toss them over the edge. Why? Well, the lights of the town can confuse pufflings, who use the light of the moon and stars to guide them to the ocean, where they live for much of the year. Residents are simply doing their part to ensure they find their way to their natural habitat.