Join the 'Puffarazzi' this summer


The RSPB is once again asking members of the public to help with its ground-breaking project, 'Puffarazzi', from the comfort of their homes this summer.

The initiative aims to find out what is causing Puffin population changes across the UK, particularly focusing on differences in food availability related to climate change. With their colourful bills, distinctive eye markings and comical walk, Puffins are a firm favourite for many people. However, they are in serious trouble, with numbers plummeting in former strongholds across the UK and Europe.

People can join the Puffarazzi by submitting photos from visits to Puffin colonies in previous years – more specifically, the RSPB is looking for images of adult birds with food in their bills. Such images may help scientists learn more about what Puffins are feeding their chicks – or 'pufflings', as they are fondly known.

The RSPB is keen to receive your photos of Puffins carrying food, like these sandeels, at colonies across the UK (Carl Bovis).

The project first ran in summer 2017, before returning last year with the added request for images from any year, which it was hoped would help build a picture of how food sources might have changed over time.

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The public response in the previous two years was impressive. In 2017, 602 people joined the Puffarazzi and sent in 1,402 photos from almost 40 colonies. In 2019, this increased to 825 participants contributing 2,718 photos from 49 colonies. 

This year the project is adapting to take coronavirus guidelines into account, asking people to focus on revisiting their photo albums and files at home in case there are any images tucked away from previous visits that could be of use.

The photos will help scientists identify areas where Puffins are struggling to find enough adequate prey, with any historical photos providing an invaluable comparison of how food availability has changed over time.

Connie Tremlett, RSPB Conservation Scientist and manager of this year's project, said: "We've been bowled over by how many people have already taken part in Puffarazzi – the response so far really shows how beloved these 'clowns of the sea' are, and how each and every one of us can play a part in saving them. As Puffins return to our shores, we're once again asking people to share their photos from previous years with us. However old your photo is, as long as it's a picture of a Puffin with food in its beak, and you know when and where it was taken, it will help.

"Those who join the Puffarazzi are filling key gaps in our knowledge, helping us to understand what threats are facing these little seabirds. This is the first critical step to determining how to save them and ensure they return to our coasts for years to come."

Find out more about the project at rspb.org.uk/projectpuffin.