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Birds behaving sadly

by Deborah Leggate -

Famous puffincam chick perishes after early morning attack


The breeding season of a puffin pair, whose antics have been watched by thousands of people online, has ended in sadness following the death of their only chick.

Since April, people from across the world have been logging on to see the birds set up home in a burrow at RSPB Sumburgh Head nature reserve.

“Puffincam” is part of a project entitled Date With Nature, which aims to encourage visitors to find out more about Shetland's amazing wildlife.

However, yesterday afternoon, concerned viewers from as far away Chile, Australia and the USA contacted the conservation charity after the young puffin chick disappeared for several hours and the parents were behaving in a distressed manner. 

Upon studying the footage, RSPB Scotland and partners Promote Shetland later confirmed that the young bird had sadly perished, having fallen victim to attack by a puffin early in the morning.  The chick took its last breaths just after midday, then the adults started showing unusual behaviour.

Andy Steven from Promote Shetland said "It's certainly nature - up close and personal - and disappointing to announce that the Shetland puffling didn't make it this year after such a great start to life. Puffincam has enjoyed worldwide success this year with almost two hundred thousand views of the webpage. It's a real shame to see the harsh reality of nature live before our eyes. Having watched back the final video footage from the burrow, I certainly believe that puffins have the ability to show emotion.”

Helen Moncrieff, RSPB Scotland's Sumburgh Head Warden, added “We are most grateful to everyone who got in touch, voicing concern for the puffin chick and helping shed light on what happened in the burrow.  Puffincam has captured people's hearts. Folk have even travelled to Sumburgh Head from the USA and European continent having watched online.”

RSPB Sumburgh Head is an important breeding location for seabirds, and is easily accessible to visitors. Despite the setback with Puffincam, the reserve still has much to enjoy, from puffins to fulmars.

Meanwhile, a further camera, positioned on the cliff side, is continuing to provide views of other breeding seabird species such as fulmars, who have recently hatched out their own chick.

Puffincam and Cliffcam can be viewed at and more information can be found at

Puffincam is a partnership project between RSPB Scotland and Promote Shetland and sponsored by NorthLink Ferries.

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