Young Puffins May Be Hiding Under Cars, Warns Scottish Seabird Center

Young puffins, also known as pufflings, might be found under cars over the next few weeks. Scottish drivers are being asked to take extra care as the puffin breeding season draws to a close.

The Scottish Seabird Centre issued the warning this week because they don’t want drivers in the North Berwick area to unintentionally harm a disoriented baby puffin. As the pufflings emerge from their rocky burrows along Scotland’s coast, the inexperienced birds sometimes get confused.

Not knowing yet to avoid towns, baby puffins have gotten confused and hidden under cars in past years. In one case, a lost puffling got caught strolling the corridors of a hotel. But in several cases, they have been found under vehicles.

The center’s head Tom Brock said in a statement: “My request to people along in and around North Berwick is to look under your car — you may find a cute young puffin…So please take a minute to check — you may help save a puffling!”

If you do discover one of these cuties under your car, you are asked to call the Scottish Seabird Centre for help to get the young puffin back where it belongs.

The top photograph is an adult puffin that I photographed on a breeding rock in offshore Maine. The baby puffins won’t look quite the same, since their beaks haven’t yet developed the color yet. Their plumage will also tend to be grayer, since they won’t yet have the contrasty black and white adult plumage.

But you’ll probably know a young puffin if you see it loitering under your car.

The Scottish Seabird Centre noted that tourists now come from around the world to watch the puffins, thanks to the large population of the entertaining birds breeding nearby. You can join boat trips from March to October for a better look.

And when you leave, be sure to check under your car for any young puffins.

[puffin photo by Elaine Radford]