Just because it looks like a clown doesn't mean you can't take this seagoing bird seriously.
The Atlantic puffin is primarily a seabird except when it returns to land to breed. The birds then make their homes in underground burrows.
There is something magical about puffins and their auk family kin, the dovekies, guillemots, murres, and razorbills. These birds receive no praise for the beauty of their songs, win no awards for nest weaving, or score any points for grace as they frantically flap over the water or waddle across rocky landscapes. The puffins took a different path from other birds, trading beauty for a gaudy nose, unneeded songs for grunts and croaks, and grace in the air for a beautiful combination of form and function below the surfaces of the oceans. Watch them glide between giant sea fronds or bob on ocean waves, and you know that, despite the feathers and wings, these birds belong to the world of water.
This article is from the Winter 2012 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.