14 March 2011

Mystery Puffin Deaths in Spain

During the last couple of weeks, the north coast of Spain has been dotted with dead Puffins. Up until last weekend a total of 72 birds had been found.
The puffin is a pelagic species of auk which spends its winter in the middle of the Atlantic and North Sea, where it is vulnerable to oil spills and bioaccumulation of heavy metals.

Sadly this morning, we received a report of one of these dead Puffins, found on a beach near Gijón wearing a BTO ring! We discovered that it was ringed as an adult in July 2009 on the Shiant Islands in the Western Isles of Scotland.

We don't know where this bird spent the winter or where it exactly died because it would have been brought to the coast on the oceanic currents.

View Puffin EW81339 in a larger map

We hope to hear again from the finders if they discover the cause of death after the postmortem.

Thank you to Marco García for sharing the story and to José Antonio Larriba for the photographs.


  1. I have found a dead puffin at Bishops Quarters beach, Co Clare, Rep. Ireland, may 31st 2011. On Close inspection it was densely covered with ticks, around the beak area, I have photos if you need them. It was not ringed.

  2. Yes please. Send them to recoveries@bto.org.