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Puffling isn't easy: Climate-friendly stories making us smile this week

Puffins. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Puffins. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's Saturday morning newsletter, The Weekender. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Well, the weather is chilly again after a few weeks of fool’s spring. And although fluctuations in temperature are often normal for New England, weeks of warm bookended by sudden snowfall doesn’t exactly inspire hope for the environment.

That’s why I’m bringing you two feel-good stories — one local, one international — about our planet ahead of Monday's return of our seasonal joy newsletter, The Pick Me Up.

Let’s get into it:

First, I love puffins. They’re funny little seabirds that try their best to make friends and survive across rocky islands in the northern Atlantic.

In March, residents of Iceland's Westman Islands, known locally as Vestmannaeyjar, look forward to the puffins’ return to land. After all, springtime is mating season. And that means baby puffins, called pufflings. (C’mon people. Pufflings?! It really doesn’t get cuter than that.)

However, puffins are notoriously slow breeders. (They mate for life, and each couple only lays one egg per season.) So, keeping those precious — and vulnerable — baby birds safe is extremely important to those living on the Westman Islands’ only inhabited island, Heimaey.

Cue the Puffling Patrol.

Smithsonian Magazine reports that the volunteer crew of kids, their parents, and senior citizens have rallied together to rescue and reroute lost pufflings on their journey from their burrow to the water. Between the cute baby bird and the stunning scenery, the story is worth your time for the photos alone.

Second, have you heard of the emerald ash borer? This species of jewel beetle, albeit beautiful, has been wreaking havoc across North America.

This invasive species, originally from Russia, eats through the tissues under ash trees, killing them from within. That spells trouble for the trees and the animals that rely on them, particularly frogs and their tadpoles.

Biological problems require biological solutions. And while they may not be everyone's favorite animal, in this case that means wasps. After several years of experimentation across New England, scientists are cautiously optimistic that a species of stingless wasp that managed to keep the emerald ash borer under control in Russia might be able to curb the beetle’s effects in New England, too.

Check out the full story from Connecticut Public here.

Enjoy these stories? Then sign up for The Pick Me Up. Starting this Monday, I’ll be sending more feel-good stories like these straight to your inbox three times a week all through March.

P.S.— Help us spread the joy in each edition of The Pick Me Up by giving a shoutout to someone who is making your life brighter. It could be a family member, friend or the person who held the door for you this morning. Whoever it is, give them a shoutout by filling out this form. Be sure to let us know why they’re bringing you joy today (or every day).

Sign up for the WBUR Weekender


Hanna Ali Associate Producer
Hanna Ali is an associate producer for newsletters at WBUR.



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