News / Help the RSPB by becoming Puffarazzi

Puffin number are predicted to decline by 50 to 70 per cent over the next 50 years. Photo: RSPB

VISITORS to Shetland’s puffin colonies are being asked to take part in a project to help discover what the birds feed their chicks.

People are being asked to become ‘Puffarazzi’ at sites like Sumburgh Head and Hermaness in Unst by taking photos of the birds carrying fish.

The move is part of Project Puffin, which was launched earlier this year to learn more about the birds’ feeding habits in light of puffin numbers across the UK and Europe sliding.

Visitors to Shetland’s puffin colonies in June and July can upload any photos they take of the birds carrying fish for their young to this website: http://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/project-puffin/index.aspx 

RSPB Scotland will then examine the images to find out more about feeding habits.

Nearly 18 per cent of all puffins that breed in the UK and Ireland are homed in Shetland. Nationally, however, numbers of the birds are expected to quickly fall further in the coming decades.


Project Puffin leader Dr Ellie Owen said action needs to be taken now to counter a massive drop in the puffin population.

“Puffins are facing huge declines over the next 50 years – it’s estimated their numbers will go down by between 50-70 per cent by 2065 – so it’s really important that we act now to help them,” she said.

“Anyone can take part in Puffarazzi – there are some easy steps to follow to ensure that the information being gathered by the images submitted is scientifically robust, and that puffins, and other wildlife, aren’t disturbed while the photos are taken.

“It’s great that the public are able to play such an active role in this project – we hope people will be inspired by the plight of these birds to become Puffarazzi.

“This is a chance for people to help shape the future for puffins; we expect that the information collected by the project will advise government on the best ways to protect puffins at sea so anyone taking part in Puffarazzi will be providing us with valuable data that should have a long term impact.”

Tips to avoid disturbing puffins include spending no more than two minutes photographing them, keeping noise and movements to a minimum and staying at least five metres away from the birds.

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