Puffin eating in the Faroes

From Wikipedia

Faroese fleygers with their catch, late 19th century

Puffin is a gastronmic speciality of the Faroe Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic Puffins breed in the islands in large numbers, notably on Mykines, and from July, after the breeding season, and it is legal to catch them for food. Puffins are also widely harvested and eaten in Iceland, especially in the Westmen Isles.


Puffin harvesting

Puffin hunter in Suðurey, Westmen Isles

The Faroes are home to about five million seabirds, including two million breeding pairs, with a biomass of 3,000 tonnes. Seabird harvesting in the Faroe Islands has been carried out sustainably for at least 300 years, historically forming a very important component of the Faroese diet. Bag limits are now set each year to maintain the harvest of tens of thousands of birds annually. Ownership of the areas where puffins, and other harvested seabirds, breed and are caught, may be by individuals or communally by villages. Puffins and fulmars are the most important species harvested, but guillemots and gannets (and, historically, other species) are also taken.[1][2]

Puffins are caught by the traditional method of “fleyging”. This is catching the birds in flight by actively netting them with the hand-wielded “fleygingarstong”, a 3.6 metre-long pole with a small net at the end suspended between two rods, somewhat like a very long lacrosse stick. Fleyging is usually carried out on a cliff-top from a “fleygises”, or fleyging-seat, built of stones in a small depression so that the fleyger is concealed from overflying puffins. Several hundred puffins may be caught in this way by one person in a day.[3]

Puffins in Faroese culture

Puffins are culturally important in the Faroe Islands. The Faroese word for puffin is “lundi”. A popular and much loved Faroese cartoon character is the bespectacled puffin known as Ludvik Lundi.

Puffin cuisine

The birds are traditionally prepared by being skinned, the feet, wings and internal organs removed, soaked in a simple marinade of saltwater, milk or ale, browned in a pan and then boiled. They are sometimes just smoked before being boiled. More recently other methods, such as grilling the breasts, are being used. Puffins may also be stuffed with sweet cake dough, raisins and spices, before being boiled or roasted

Puffins in the Faroes

Known in Faroes as lundin, the puffin is a well-known character that is understandably one of the star attractions for visitors to Faroes, whether they are keen ornithologist or not.
In mid April, the puffin come close to the shore and then at the end of the month comes on land to re-establish its breeding grounds.
It is a pelagic bird – meaning it remains at sea during the winter and only comes ashore to breed. It feeds primarily by diving for fish, but also eats other sea creatures.