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Puffling Patrol!

Kids in Iceland work hard to help baby puffins get where they need to go.

Three kids on a sidewalk in winter clothing smile and two of them hold pufflings.

Courtesy of Luke and Samantha Kuhn,

These pufflings will soon be on their way to the ocean, where puffins live!

Every year some kids in Iceland get to stay up late. They’re not watching TV or playing video games. They’re on Puffling Patrol. They’re saving adorable baby birds called pufflings.

Pufflings are chicks that will grow up to be puffins. Puffins spend most of their lives on the ocean. In the spring, many puffins lay eggs on the cliffs of Iceland’s Westman Islands. When the chicks hatch, they fly out to sea by going toward the Moon’s light. But on one of the islands, streetlights have caused problems. The pufflings get confused and go the wrong way, toward the streetlights. That’s why they need humans to help them.

Courtesy of Luke and Samantha Kuhn,

Many kids and their parents go on Puffling Patrol. At night, they look for lost pufflings under cars and behind garbage bins. They pick up any pufflings they find and take them home. The next morning, the kids take the pufflings to the cliffs, by the ocean. Sometimes they toss the pufflings into the air. Other times they just put the chicks on the ground near the edge of the cliff. Either way, the pufflings do what they’re supposed to do. They fly out toward the ocean, where they belong.

The Puffling Patrol is very important. The puffin population has fallen in recent years because of climate change. By saving the pufflings, kids are giving them a chance to grow into adults. At some point, those same puffins will probably return to the Westman Islands to lay eggs, so new puffins can be born.

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Fun Fact

© Vector Moon, Pytyczech/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

From its name, you might think Iceland is covered in ice. But only a small part of Iceland is covered by ice. Another island, called Greenland, isn’t as green as you might think. Most of Greenland is covered by ice!

Pretend Puffins

A real puffin looks at a puffin decoy on a cliff.

Jean Hall

Can you tell which puffin is real?

Sometimes scientists come up with creative ways to help animals. Scientists at the National Audubon Society, a group that works to protect birds, wanted to make sure that puffins were able to find places to reproduce (have chicks). 

Puffins lay their eggs on the coast of islands. When they see other puffins on the coasts, they’re more likely to go there. So scientists put fake puffins on the islands! These fake birds are called decoys.

The real puffins see the decoys and land on the islands. Once there, they figure out that the decoys are fake. But they’re able to find real birds and reproduce.

All About Puffins

© Tony/

We can’t get enough of puffins! Read about these cute birds at Britannica School.

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: a group of people, vehicles, etc., that go through an area to make sure that it is safe : a group that patrols an area

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