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Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica


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Atlantic Puffin, breeding adult
credit: Andreas Trepte/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has mostly black upperparts with dusky white face; underparts are mostly white with a clear demarcation from black neck. Legs are orange-red and bill is huge, laterally flattened and marked with red, blue, and yellow. WINTER ADULT Similar, but it has a dark gray face and slightly smaller, much duller bill. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but with even smaller, duller bill.

Dimensions Length: 12" (30 cm)

Habitat Very locally abundant at Canadian seabird colonies. Nests in burrows on grassy, sloping cliffs and islands. Numbers greatly reduced in the past by hunting; species is now threatened by overfishing and marine pollution. Outside breeding season, Puffins are found far out to sea and seldom seen from land.

Observation Tips A visit to a colony is a memorable experience. Some in Newfoundland and Labrador are accessible and Witless Bay and Baccalieu Island are hotspots.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada

Voice Utters strange groaning calls at nest.

Discussion Endearing and unmistakable seabird due to its bill size, shape, and color. Looks rather black and white at a distance and flies on narrow wings with whirring wingbeats. Swims well and dives frequently in search of fish. Sexes are similar.