Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Fratercula arctica
Atlantic Puffin


Distinguishing Features - Length: 29 - 34.5 cm; wingspread: 53 - 61 cm. Colouration: upper parts, black; undersides white; body; short, stocky; cheeks are white. These puffins have large, parrot-like, triangular shaped bill, which in the breeding season is bright orange with a yellow-bordered patch of blue at the rear half. After the breeding season, they lose some of their horny bill plates and molt as well. Winter plumage is similar but faces are largely dark. Sexes are similar.

Atlantic Puffin Habitat

Palearctic, Nearctic: Greenland and Northern Canada, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Nova Scotia, Iceland, Northern Scandinavia, Northern Russia; also Ireland, and NW coast of France. In summer, common puffins reside on rocky cliffs of the North Atlantic and northern Europe; in winter far at sea on deep, icy water and are seldom seen within sight of land until March.


Primarily small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. These puffins dive from the air or surface and use their wings to swim underwater where they catch their prey, which is swallowed underwater unless they're feeding their young. They can carry as many as 30 fish at a time in their bill.


Puffins walk erect, live in colonies and are very curious and tame. They utter low, purring noises in flight, low grunts and groans while nesting. They ride high on the water like ducks and must run across the surface of the water to become airborne.

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