Puffin

Puffin

Scientific name: Fratercula arctica

Did you know: Puffins can carry multiple fish in their beaks at once, thanks to a unique hinging mechanism that lets them stack their catch crosswise!

What Do Puffins Look Like? (how to identify them)

Puffins, belonging to the genus Fratercula, are small, charming seabirds with a distinct appearance. They have black or black and white plumage, a stout build, and large, colourfully hued beaks during the breeding season. 

Their short wings are designed for swimming underwater. When flying, they beat their wings rapidly, giving them a distinctive flight pattern.

Differences Between Male And Female Puffins

Male and female Puffins are similar in size and colouration. However, males generally have slightly larger bodies and beaks. The gender differences are subtle and often not easily discernible.

What Do Puffins Eat?

Puffins primarily dine on fish, particularly sandeels. They are skilled hunters, diving underwater and using their wings to ‘fly’ through the water. They can hold several fish in their beaks simultaneously, thanks to their unique beak structure.

Where Do Puffins Live? (inc. migration info)

Puffins are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, breeding on coastal cliffs or offshore islands. They prefer habitats with crevices or burrows for nesting. After the breeding season, they spend their winters far out at sea.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Puffins)

Though generally silent at sea, Puffins are vocal on their breeding grounds. They produce an array of sounds, including growls and chattering. These sounds play a significant role in their social interactions during the breeding season.

Fun Puffin Facts (kid friendly)

  • Puffins can flap their wings up to 400 times per minute when flying.
  • Their colourful beaks are only for the breeding season; they shed the outer parts afterwards.
  • Puffins are also known as “sea parrots” and “clowns of the sea” due to their colourful appearance.
  • They use their feet to steer while swimming underwater.
  • Puffins can dive up to 60 metres deep to hunt for fish.
  • They are monogamous, often mating with the same partner each year.
  • Puffins can live for over 20 years.
  • During winter, Puffins roam the open ocean and can travel vast distances.
  • Puffins are skilled builders, creating burrows for their nests on cliffs.
  • They are highly sociable birds, often seen in large groups during breeding season.

Facts About The Puffin

Diet: Fish, especially sandeels.
Bird Family: Auks
Length: 26-29cm
Wingspan: 47-63cm
Weight: 320-480g
Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica

The Puffin Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Puffin Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile