AskDefine | Define puffins

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English

Noun

puffins
  1. Plural of puffin

Extensive Definition

Puffin describes any of three auk species (or alcids) in the bird genus Fratercula (Latin: little brother — probably a reference to their black and white plumage, which resembles monastic robes) with a brightly colored beak in the breeding season. These are pelagic seabirds that feed primarily by diving. They breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, nesting in crevices among rocks or in burrows in the soil. The Tufted Puffin was formerly placed in the genus Lunda.
All three puffin species have large bills. 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 100 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over the ocean's surface.

Breeding

Three species are recognized today:
The genus Fratercula probably evolved in the northern Pacific, like most lineages of auks. However, at least 2 undescribed prehistoric species are known to have lived in the western Atlantic comparatively soon after the genus' emergence:
  • Fratercula sp. 1 (Yorktown Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA)
  • Fratercula sp. 2 (Yorktown Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA)
Another extinct species, Dow's Puffin (Fratercula dowi) was found on the Channel Islands of California until the Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene. It is possible that it became extinct due to overhunting and egg-collecting by early human settlers.

In culture

  • There are several islands around the world called Puffin Island.

External links

puffins in Breton: Poc'han
puffins in German: Alkenvögel
puffins in Spanish: Fratercula arctica
puffins in Esperanto: Fraterkulo
puffins in French: Macareux
puffins in Ido: Fraterkulo
puffins in Icelandic: Lundi
puffins in Dutch: Papegaaiduiker
puffins in Japanese: ツノメドリ属
puffins in Norwegian: Lundefugl
puffins in Polish: Maskonur
puffins in Portuguese: Papagaio-do-mar
puffins in Finnish: Lunni
puffins in Swedish: Lunnesläktet
puffins in Russian: Атлантический тупик
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