It just seems right to kick of this post with our beloved Atlantic Puffin. If you are familiar with our Explore.org Burrow and loafing ledge cams then some of you may be quite familiar with both the Puffin and their stunning pure white eggs. This species Eggs are slightly larger than your typical chicken egg and will sometimes show a weak chocolate colored spotting. On Seal Island ATPU generally lay their eggs at the beginning of the May. Our Puffin’s tend to select burrows deep under the boulder berms that surround the island and most pairs will use the same burrow year to year. Puffins almost always lay one egg per clutch with two eggs being an extremely rare case. Their eggs will take around 40 days to hatch into the little fluff balls that we have all come to know and love.
Razorbills are fantastic stocky birds that belong to the same family of birds as Puffins called the Alcids. These birds look like penguins but are not related. On Seal Island Razorbills select similar nesting sites compared to Puffins but they are often slightly larger and a bit more exposed. Their egg’s are a tad larger than a Puffin’s, are usually white or greenish and usually have dark speckling covering the egg. Razorbills will usually lay one egg per clutch. On Seal Island Razorbills will start laying eggs around the middle of May peaking toward the end of May.
The Black Guillemot is another one of our charismatic “Alcids”. Perhaps you are familiar with their red feet and classic squeaking noises. Guillemots like the Razorbills and Puffins nest in the boulder berms surrounding the island but they will also select crevices and cracks that are on the “inland” portion of the island farther away from the boulder berm and water. Their eggs are between a white and stunning light blueish color with dark colored spots or speckling covering the egg. The average clutch size is two eggs unlike the Puffin and Razorbill. Guillemots on Seal Island will start the laying process in the end of May with peak laying occurring in the first week of June.
Common Tern & Arctic Tern
Seal Island is the summer home of two different tern species, the Common and Arctic Tern. Our terns usually arrive back to the colony in the middle of May and the egg laying process gets started in the last week of May. Their eggs are very difficult to differentiate but, they are about two-thirds the size of a chicken egg and can be buff, brown, green, blue, or gray colored. Most eggs will have heavy spacklings and/or splotching of dark brown or black. Peak tern laying is around the beginning of June and peak hatching around the third week of June. Common Tern clutch size averages between 2 and 3 eggs and Arctic Terns tend to lay only 1 or 2 eggs with the rare 3 egg nest popping up. They prefer open rocky or grassy areas where they will construct small nest cups with dried grass or small woody debris.
The Common Eider is a common nesting species on Seal Island but you likely don’t often see them on our cameras. They prefer to nest in the high grass and raspberry bushes that are in the center of the island. Unlike our other species females will incubate the eggs and care for the chick herself. Common Eider eggs are nearly twice the size of your average chicken egg and have an even oval shape. They are pure white and protected by a coat of feathers called down that line the nest to keep the eggs warm. Typical clutch size is between 3 and 5 eggs with the occasional 6 or 7 egg nest. Talk about a handful! Eiders usually start nesting in the beginning of May on Seal Island and we actually have already seen or first chicks of the season!
Until “Nest” time