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Team Puffins

Learn how kids are rescuing the seabirds. CRAIG JONES—BARCROFT MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES

Heimaey is a small island off the coast of Iceland. Each spring, more than a million Atlantic puffins visit Heimaey and its neighboring islands. They go there to breed.

The puffins build nests on seaside cliffs. When a puffling, or chick, hatches, it spends six weeks in its nest. Then it leaves the nest and flies to sea.

SEA PARROT An adult puffin perches on a cliff in Iceland.


Instinct Instinct JOHNER IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES A natural behavior (Noun) Geese have an instinct to fly south in winter. tells pufflings to follow the light of the moon to the ocean. But the birds can be confused by Heimaey’s bright lights. They fly toward the lights instead of the moon. Many pufflings get lost. These lost birds can be hit by cars. Some are eaten by cats. The birds need help.

Kid Helpers

Children in Heimaey have teamed up to help puffins. Each breeding season, the kids form search parties. They carry flashlights and cardboard boxes. They are known as the Puffling Patrol.

“When you see a bird, you try to corner it and herd it into the box,” Eldur Hansen told TIME for Kids. He’s 15. Eldur has caught several birds this way. Nobody knows how the Puffling Patrol started. But each year, it rescues thousands of chicks.

Puffins in Need

The Puffling Patrol takes rescued puffins to the beach. But first, kids take the birds to an aquarium. There, the pufflings are weighed and tagged tag G. DAGLI ORTI/DEA—GETTY IMAGES to attach a label to (verb) The items that are for sale have been tagged. . This helps scientists learn more about puffins.

"K1_191129_Ancient History SP SS".

Puffins are a vulnerable vulnerable able to be harmed (adjective) If your computer is not password-protected, it is vulnerable to cyberattacks. species. That means they could soon become endangered. But Stephen Kress says the Puffling Patrol gives him hope. Kress is a conservationist conservationist someone who works to protect plants, animals, and natural resources (noun) Conservationists are working to protect mountain gorillas, which are an endangered species. . “People can make a difference,” he says.