On June 24, we welcomed the arrival of a puffin hatchling! This was just the second successful puffin chick to hatch at the National Aquarium. During breeding season, puffins lay only one egg in a clutch. If that egg is crushed or infertile, they may replace the egg, but generally puffins lay just one egg and raise one chick a year.
The Atlantic puffin hatched after a 37-day incubation period. During that time, the parents–named Victor and Vixen–took turns incubating the egg by nestling it between their body and wing to keep it warm. Upon hatching, the chick weighed just 40 grams. For the first month, the parents cared for the chick in their burrow, while the Aquarium aviculturists monitored the chick’s growth and health carefully.
It is always best to keep young animals with their parents whenever possible. In this case, the parents did a great job helping the young chick grow and learn how to be a puffin! After one month, the chick weighed more than 350 grams and was eating 10-15 fish a day.
The puffin chick is now leaving the burrow, testing the water and finding fish on its own. It has lost all of its down feathers and is beginning to look like the adult puffins! Just last week, the Aquarium aviculturists sent a few of the chick’s feathers to a DNA testing lab. Results confirmed suspicions that the chick is a boy!
Now that we know the sex of the puffin, we’re asking the public to vote on his name. You can submit your idea for a name in the comments section below! You can also TXT “puffin” and your name suggestion to 30644 (message and data rates may apply). We will accept name submissions through this Sunday, August 22, at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
We will collect the suggestions and launch an official voting period here on the blog in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your help in naming our new feathered friend!