Puffin and Petrel Patrol

  • Published on Jul 27 2011 |
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  • The Puffin and Petrel Patrol aims to rescue stranded chicks and return them safely to the ocean
  • Nightly patrols are done to search out stranded chicks
  • Puffins are released early the next morning. Since Petrels are nocturnal, they are released the same night in an area away from artificial lights

Effects of Artificial Lighting

  • Puffin and petrel chicks are attracted to artificial lighting on the coast, causing them to fly towards to community and become confused and stranded.
  • Artificial lighting influences migration, foraging, reproduction and parental behaviour.
  • Chicks are more easily disoriented by artificial lights than adult birds.
  • Seabirds are more attracted to coastal lights on cloudy or foggy nights, and less attracted on bright clear nights with a full moon.

Get Involved!

  • If you live near the ocean, consider turning off or dimming unnecessary lights that point 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.
  • 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. Contact us at nlmarine@cpaws.org.


  • 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


  • 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

If Found!

  • If you find a Puffin or Petrel please contact CPAWS-NL at (709)726-5800 for instrustion on what to do.