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This Confused Baby Puffin Thought An Ice Cream Van Was Its Burrow

"Mr Whippy" was found hiding under an ice cream van in Scotland. Pufflings have also been found in gardens, in bins, and even at a hotel and spa.

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People in Scotland are being asked to keep an eye out for baby puffins – known as pufflings – after one was found under an ice cream van in East Lothian.

Alex Turnbull / Scottish Seabird Centre

On 28 July, wildlife education charity the Scottish Seabird Centre received a call from a member of the public saying that he'd seen a puffling hiding under an ice cream van in the seaside town of North Berwick near Edinburgh.

Staff member Mike Thornton went to look for it, and managed to catch it in a cat carrier.

The puffling was nicknamed Mr Whippy, as it was obviously an ice cream fan, and taken to the Seabird Centre before being released into the sea.

Scottish Seabird Centre

Centre manager Alexander Turnbull told BuzzFeed News: “The puffling was fine, though a little confused and scared. I waited until sunset before releasing it into the sea.

"It landed on the water, dived a few times, then started to paddle out towards an uninhabited island, looking quite happy and calm.”

The Firth of Forth is home to around 160,000 puffins, and their pufflings start leaving their nests in August. / BuzzFeed

"Pufflings aren't born with a colourful beak, so they look completely different from their adult counterparts," said Seabird Centre CEO Tom Brock. "This means that people who find them often don’t realise what kind of bird they are."

Brock said people find it tempting to keep them as pets, which is illegal under UK wildlife laws.

Because they leave their nests after dark, pufflings often get confused.

Scottish Seabird Centre

Firth of Forth pufflings usually fly the nest at night to avoid predators, which means that some of them become disorientated by bright lights along the East Lothian coastline and come ashore. Polly (pictured above) was found in a garden.


Over the years, Scottish pufflings have been found in some seriously weird locations.

Turnbull said: "In 2012, a puffling was found on the second floor of the four-star Macdonald Marine Hotel and Spa nearby. No one knew how it got there. Locals have also found them in bins, sheds, and under cars.

"Last year we helped rescue 10 pufflings, but many locals are so used to them they release them without contacting us, so the actual number is likely to be much higher."

In fact, it's such a widespread issue that the centre has made a video explaining what to do if you find one.

Scottish Seabird Centre / BuzzFeed

Key takeaways are: Check under cars before starting the engine (they're drawn to dark places as they remind them of burrows), wear gloves when handling them, be gentle, put them in a cardboard box. And don't keep them as pets.

In short: most places in the UK have stray dogs and cats; Scotland has stray baby puffins.

Pufflings are much better off in the sea than they are in an ice cream van, so please call the Seabird Centre on 01620 890202 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 if you find one. Oh, and don't forget to give it a witty name.