These birds use their wings under water to swim
UPDATED 12:00 AM EDT Jun 14, 2015
ISLES OF SHOALS, N.H. —A pair of Atlantic puffins were spotted on the Isles of Shoals this past week and are included in this week's rare bird alert by the NH Audubon Society.
These clown-like birds with magnificent colored beaks spend most of their lives at sea, but return to land to form breeding colonies during spring and summer.
They are more often breeding north of New Hampshire.
These birds live most of their lives at sea, resting on the waves when not swimming.
According to National Geographic, they are excellent swimmers that use their wings to stroke underwater with a flying motion.
They steer with rudderlike webbed feet and can dive to depths of 200 feet, though they usually stay underwater for only 20 or 30 seconds.
Puffins typically hunt small fish like herring or sand eels.
In the air, puffins are surprisingly fleet flyers. By flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute they can reach speeds of 55 miles an hour.
The birds often select precipitous, rocky cliff tops to build their nests, which they line with feathers or grass. Females lay a single egg, and both parents take turns incubating it, according to National Geographic.
When a chick hatches, its parents take turns feeding it by carrying small fish back to the nest in their relatively spacious bills.
Puffin couples often reunite at the same burrow site each year and have a lifespan of about 20 years.