Puffin Wars

22.7.2009
Words by Catharine Fulton
British ornithologists (those specializing in the study of birds) claim to have found Europe’s oldest living puffin on Rough Island in the Shiant Isles of Scotland. The bird is known to be at least 34 years old, as it was captured and tagged by ornithologist Ian Buxton in 1975 and was re-caught earlier this month, coincidentally by Buxton again.

However, the South Iceland Nature Centre is contesting the Brits’ claim to puffin fame, insisting that Óskar J. Sigurdsson, the lighthouse keeper on Cape Stórhöfdi, has documented a puffin at least 38 years of age. Determined to maintain their puffin pride, the British ornithologists have completely disregarded the existence of Iceland’s geriatric puffin, insisting that their bird holds the title.

Atlantic puffins inhabit the coastal areas of much of western Europe, the east coast of North America, the radius of Iceland and the southern end of Greenland. The average live expectancy of a puffin is 25 years.

This could get ugly.

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