The Seabird Conservation and Habitat Improvement Program aims to rescue stranded chicks and return them safely to the ocean.
The Puffin Patrol was started 4 years ago by Juergen Schau with the assistance of youth in Witless Bay. Stranded puffin chicks are rescued and secured overnight and then safely returned to the ocean in the morning. This year Juergen is partnering with CPAWS-NL to expand this program to include the rescue of Leach's Storm Petrels. The Seabird Conservation and Habitat Improvement Program (Puffin and Petrel Patrol) will run from August 20 - October 31 rescuing puffin and petrel chicks. Unlike puffins, storm petrels are nocturnal and these birds will be released onto a dark beach the same night they are rescued.
(designed by our youth patrollers)
Puffin and petrel chicks are attracted to artificial lighting on the coast, this causes them to fly towards the community leaving them stranded and confused. Artifical lighting influences the migration, foraging, reproduction and parental behavior of seabirds. Due to their inexperience and age the chick are more likely to be attracted by the coastal lights. Newfoundland weather enhances this problem because of the frequent cloud covered or foggy nights, on bright clear nights when the moon is visible and full the chicks are less likely to be attracted to the coastal lights.
If you live near the ocean, consider turning off or dimming unnecessary lights, or pointing lights downwards instead of pointing towards the ecological reserve. This will reduce the amount of artificial light visible to seabirds and they will be less inclined to fly towards the community. You can also Change your lights to amber and blue lights so that they are puffin safe! Watch news report here.
Become a volunteer! The Puffin and Petrel Patrol aims to rescue stranded chicks and return them safely to the ocean. We will also band chicks, which will allow us to determine how often they are likely to become lost in shore, and also provide valuable long-term data for seabird migration research. You can also report sighted chicks that you see on our roadways! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Atlantic Puffin
•Witless Bay Ecological Reserve contains North America’s largest colony of Atlantic Puffins, with over 260,000 mating pairs.
•Atlantic Puffins eat small fish and can dive up to 70m underwater to catch them.
•Puffins dig burrows for nests and lay one egg in May or June which is incubated by both parents.
•Chicks hatch in July and begin leaving their nests in late summer and early fall to make their way out to sea where they spend the winter.
• Unlike colourful adult puffins, the beak and feet of the chick are grey/black.
• The scientific name of the Atlantic Puffin is Fratercula arctica
Leach's Storm Petrel
•The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve contains the second largest colony of Leach's Storm Petrels in the world, with over 620,000 pairs.
•The Leach's Storm Petrel is a small black bird with a white patch on the rump. These birds have a distinctive tube nose.
•Leach's Storm Petrels are nocturnal, meaning they are only active at night.
• Like puffins, petrel parents lay a single egg and take turns incubating. Chicks hatch in late June to early-August, and leave their nest during the night in mid-September to late October.
• The scientific name of the Leach's Storm Petrel is Oceanodroma leucorhoa. These birds are also known locally as Mother Carey's Chickens.
Live from Sumburgh Head RSPB Reserve (PUFFINCAM)
Read Jake the Puffin's Amazing Adventure at this upcoming World Oceans Day, and get your own FREE copy of the new book series!
CPAWS-NL's role in this program is to recruit volunteers, and to educate the public on the effects of artifical lighting on seabirds.
What is the Puffin Patrol?
To save the puffin chicks the Puffin Patrol was begun 3 years ago by Juergen Schau with the assistance of the youth of Witless Bay. Since then, hundreds of puffin chicks have been rescued and released into the ocean to later return as adult puffins to our Ecological Reserve here in Witless Bay.
How many puffins and Petrels are here?
Over 200,000 every year.
Why do they fly inland?
Because they are nocturnal, They fly only at night, using the moon to navigate, if it is a foggy or windy night, the chicks become confused and fly inland thinking the street lights are the moon.
What do you need to save them?
First a permit to catch this rare bird. Then a flashlight, gloves, a net, a box, six-pack (empty) or special boxes . They need to get air in the night during waiting for daylight.
What happens in the morning?
When they are out of the box, they want to go as fast as possible into the Ocean. So let them fly in the air, and the chick must do a first dive. Once this happened all is fine. The chicks instincts are working and they can protect themselves from predators.
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