Atlantic puffin. By Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH |
Atlantic puffin. By Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH |

About Atlantic puffins.

Puffins are monogamous animals and they mate for life. Pairs live in huge colonies during breeding season. The rest of the time they are solitary animals.

They have a brightly colored beak that turns dull grey in the Winter. The colors bloom again in the Spring. This implies that it is their way of attracting potential mates for breeding.

This animal is also known as “sea parrot” because of its colorful beak.

Puffins spend most of their life alone on the sea, resting on the waves. They are excellent swimmers and divers that effectively use their wings for propulsion underwater. During the breeding season, they come back to coastal areas to mate.

They have webbed feet, like many other animals able to navigate bodies of water, and they use them to reach depths of up to 60 m (197 ft), staying underwater 20-30 seconds.

These birds can flap their wings 400 times per minute and reach speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph).

The Atlantic puffin uses the burrows of other animals, or digs its own with its strong beak, to lay its eggs (underground) and keep them safe. Male and female share the incubation responsibilities.

They are quite clumsy on the ground. This characteristic, along with the colors and their abilities on the water, makes them look like penguins.

Other birds (about the same size or bigger) are their main enemies during the breeding season. Puffins can be very aggressive when it comes to defending their nest.

Males are slightly bigger than females, but they are colored alike.

The number of grooves on their beak indicates their age, with a maximum of 4 when they are 25 years old.

After 34-50 days, puffin chicks fledge and reach 75% of their mature body weight. One night they leave their burrow and head off to the ocean to spend 2 or 3 years alone at sea.

A puffin flying with its mouth full of fish. By Matt Elliott |
A puffin flying with its mouth full of fish. By Matt Elliott |
Atlantic puffinVulnerable
Fratercula arctica28-30 cm (11-12 in)
Alcidae500 g (17.5 oz)
Charadriiformes20 years
Aves45 days of incubation time
4,770,000-5,780,000 pairsThey mainly eat fish and sometimes crustaceans, prawns or worms.
It is a seabird that nests in coastal areas.North of the Atlantic ocean: northeastern coasts of Europe, the Arctic fringes and eastern North America. The largest colony, with 60% of the population, is in Iceland.

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