Puffin

Zoo Hatches First Horned Puffin Chick

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A tiny Horned Puffin is doing well at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The chick hatched in July at the Rocky Shores habitat for sea birds.

This is the first Horned Puffin ever hatched at the zoo, which has been home to four adult members of this species since October 2014.

The chick will be visible, periodically. However, zoo guests are likely to only catch glimpses of its tiny beak as it ventures to the front of its nesting area.

“The chick’s parents take turns feeding it, and visitors can see them going to and fro with food, or watching over the nest box,” said staff biologist, Cindy Roberts.

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4_Puffin 4Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (1-4) / Ingrid Barrentine (5-7)

Earlier this year, zookeepers took the initiative to build nest boxes for the Horned Puffins. They consulted with experts at the Alaska Sea Life Center to build boxes for the mating pair.

Zookeepers at Point Defiance Zoo give daily feeding presentations and talk to visitors about Horned Puffins, Tufted Puffins and Common Murres.

“Staff won’t know whether the chick is male or female, until it’s old enough for staff to collect a small blood sample from which gender and general health status can be determined,” Roberts continued.

A “well-chick-check-up” from a zoo veterinarian recently found the baby Puffin to be in good health.

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A Perfect Little Puffin Chick

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Victor and Vixen, a pair of Atlantic Puffins that hatched the National Aquarium’s first Puffin chick in 2006, have done it again: They hatched their fourth chick on July 4.

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Photo Credit:  National Aquarium

Puffins co-parent their young and take turns incubating the egg, protecting their nest, and carrying back small fish to keep their chick happily fed.

The Aquarium’s Puffins nest in special enclosures created to mimic the deep burrows typically used by their species on the coastlines of western Europe, Greenland, Iceland, and the northeastern coast of North America. In the wild, Puffin couples have been observed reuniting at the same burrow site year after year.

Since hatching, the chick has been closely watched by staff aviculturists. Keepers report that the baby is steadily gaining weight and appears to be quite healthy.

The baby Puffin will remain in its burrow several weeks before it begins making short exploratory trips into the exhibit.

Puffins are estimated to number in the millions, although hunting and egg harvesting have reduced populations in some parts of their range.  Puffins are a national delicacy in Iceland.


They Don't Call 'em Puffins for Nuthin'

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Back in 2006, The National Aquarium was happy to report the first successful hatching of its first puffin chick. The parents, Victor and Vixen, presented it with another healthy chick in 2010, later named Vinny.  On June 28, 2011, they hatched their third little puffin! The chick weighed 40 grams at the time of the hatch, and weighed 90 grams at 8 days old. This follows the weight pattern of his older brother.

Just a little over a week later, on July 6, first-time puffin parents Tex and Kingster hatched their own chick, making this the Aquarium’s first year for multiple puffin hatchings. This chick weighed 39.4 grams at the time of the hatch and 168 grams at 12 days old.

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Photo credits: The National Aquarium

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