Each year Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Newfoundland and Labrador (CPAWS NL) in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Services (CWS) and local residents of the Southern Shore, actively patrol the area for stranded juvenile puffins. Last year over 700 young pufffins, or puffilings, were rescued! Starting from Mid-August until September young puffilings will leave their burrows for the first time at night, following the light of the moon to direct them out to sea. Unfortunately, under various wind and weather conditions, some chicks are attracted by artificial lights along the coast such as streetlights, headlights, and home lights where they end up stranded on land where they would be vulnerable to cars and other hazards.
CPAWS organizes and coordinates volunteer patrols of the area to help rescue the stranded birds, where they are then stored overnight at our headquarters, at O’Briens Bird Island Charters in Bay Bulls. Eager volunteers are welcome to visit headquarters between 9 PM to 12:30 AM every night to receive their kits and training and begin patrolling. The following morning the birds are weighed, measured and banded by CWS for scientific monitoring, where they are then released back to the ocean from local boat tours or from Lower Pond Beach Witless Bay.
To reduce the number of stranded chicks, we encourage local residents of the area to dim all unnecessary lighting in their homes, turn off outside lighting when applicable and use coloured lights or shades outside the home. This year, the young pufflings will be released in the mornings – Mondays from Molly Bawn Tours, Tuesdays from O’Brien’s Tours, Wednesdays from Gatherall’s Tours and Thursday to Sunday, weather permitting, 10:30 AM on Lower Pond Beach, Witless Bay.
To learn more about the program, how you can be involved, how to make your home puffin friendly, or donate to this initiative, please visit cpawsnl.org or follow us on Facebook @Puffin & Petrel Patrol NL.