The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is engaging citizen scientists to study the dinner of one of the world’s cutest birds—puffins. They are asking people to visit puffin colonies in the UK and to photograph birds with their mouths filled with fish. Not only are the photos endearing, but scientists will be able to learn more about the birds’ diet. Project Puffin is led by “Puffineers”, and those who submit photos can claim the title of “Puffarazzi”. It’s not a secret that the UK loves birding, and this project should certainly get some attention with its fun lingo and call to action.
As you can see, the photos are amazing and the project’s site offers smart guidelines for taking photos without disrupting colonies. The site’s map of the colonies was based on information that was done in a survey ten years ago, so clearly there is a need to inventory what is out there. Photographers are asked to upload their photos into the site’s gallery (promising only one pic per bird) and to include the locations of the sightings. Behind all the humor and beauty presented by RSPB, there is serious concern.
Puffins are one our most recognisable and much loved seabirds with their colourful bills and eye markings. However, in recent years their numbers across the UK and Europe have plummeted leading to the species being declared vulnerable to global extinction, with further declines of between 50-79 percent estimated by 2065. Warming seas, caused by climate change, affecting puffins’ food sources are thought to be one of the main threats to their numbers.
There is a simplicity in this project that allows so many to get involved, and that’s what it will take to save the species. So, if you live in the UK or are planning a vaca in the area, please do make an effort to help this initiative. As a birder I still haven’t seen a puffin, so you can bet I’ll be sharing this project all over my social media. If you share a love of birds and tech like me, you should check out our Trinket Modded Stuffed Animal project. Using our smallest microcontroller, you can bring a creature to life. Learn how to manipulate sounds through code and see if you can reproduce your fave bird call. Puffins anyone?