Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin Picture

An Atlantic Puffin is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Atlantic Puffins. We have also put together a list of fun Atlantic Puffin T-shirts, Atlantic Puffin bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About Atlantic Puffins

It is a neatly dressed white and black seabird with a multicolored bill. It is commonly known as the clown of the sea as it breeds on the islands in the North Atlantic and spends most of the winter is spent out at sea. In flight, they seem to struggle with frantic wing beats but underwater their wings become powerful flippers allowing it to catch small fish until its beak is full.

Atlantic Puffin Color Pattern

Throughout the year the Atlantic Puffin has black upperparts and white on its underparts. During the breeding season, the Atlantic Puffin has a greyish white face while the rest of the time it is usually a darker shade of grey with the bill shedding the yellow lines and becomes slightly smaller.

Description and Identification

The first thing you’ll notice about the Atlantic Puffin is its massive, colorful bill. It flaps its wings quickly to try to stay in the air, but their wings are built just right for diving below the surface of the sea to catch prey. An Atlantic Puffin is a thick black and white bird, and its triangular bill is red, yellow, and grey. A black collar distinguishes a white belly from a face. Underwings are dark, and wings are black. Their back is black as well. The top of their heads is a thin, black stripe from the beak to the back of the neck, while large white patches surround their eyes. Their feet are webbed like ducks, as these birds are water birds, first and foremost.

Atlantic Puffin Size

The Atlantic puffin is a medium-sized seabird with a big head, short neck, and a relatively large bill. It floats in the high seas and can stand erect on land. Its bill grows larger as the bird grows older. Both sexes are 26-29 centimeters in length and weigh 310-550 grams. They have a wingspan of 53 centimeters.

Atlantic Puffin Behavior

A high percentage of their life is lived in the open waters only coming back to land for breeding. They move like Penguins once on land and swim underwater using their wings to propel them and feet to change direction. Atlantic Puffins forage in colonies during the breeding but are mostly found alone or in a pair during the winter season.

Atlantic Puffin Diet

Diving is the name of the game when Atlantic Puffins are hungry. They forage while they move under the surface of the sea. They can dive as deep as about 200 feet under the water, but they do most of their foraging within 50 feet of the surface. They can capture several fish in one dive because they have spikes that point backward on the roofs of their mouths, and their tongues also help keep the prey from moving. When it’s breeding season, they stay near the breeding colony and forage in shallow waters. They eat fish and crustaceans, for the most part. They typically feed their young small fish, like sand lance, cod, herring, sprat, hake, and capelin. The crustaceans they eat include euphausiid shrimp, mysids, and copepods. They also consume marine worms and mollusks. 

The main source of nutrition for Atlantic Puffins is small fish. Over the breeding season, they forage in shallow waters close to their breeding territory. Their fishing skills are extremely accurate allowing the puffin to catch at least ten fish in one dive.

Atlantic Puffin Habitat

Atlantic Puffins make their nests in burrows on the rocky islands of the North Atlantic, in areas without tall vegetation. You’ll also see them on sea cliffs. However, this is only during breeding season. The rest of the year, though, they live on the water. They may be in coastal or offshore waters or out in the open sea. They prefer the cool waters well offshore when it isn’t breeding season, and they are sometimes even way out in the middle of the ocean at times. Their nests are in areas where soil allows for burrowing or crevices in rocks make for an excellent place to build a nest.  Atlantic Puffins spending most of their year in the open sea they build their habitats on rocky islands and cliffs with next to no vegetation.

Range and Migration

Atlantic Puffins don’t only make their homes in North America. You’ll find them across the North Atlantic: from Canada to Norway and even down to Spain. Witless Bay, Newfoundland, Canada is home to half of North America’s Atlantic Puffins during breeding season. Atlantic Puffins in North America also breed on the western coast of Greenland and in other areas on islands in the North Atlantic near Canada. They are short-distance migrant birds. They are onshore for breeding but stay at sea when it is not breeding season. You may find them further south in the waters off the coast of the northeastern U.S., around Delaware and Maryland, in some cases. 

Where to See Atlantic Puffins

Atlantic Puffins can be found in Maine. There are many birds in Maine but the most popular bird might be the Atlantic Puffin.

Eastern Egg Rock Island

If you want to see an Atlantic Puffin you will need to take a 5 mile boat ride from New Harbor, Maine to Eastern Egg Rock Island. This island is where colonies of Atlantic Puffins have been established.

Atlantic Puffin Lifecycle

Puffins are monogamous birds forming pairs that last for a couple of years. They nest in flocks or colonies in short vegetation. The male does most of the excavation of the nest than the female. She lays 1 egg each breeding season and incubates it for 36 to 45 days. The chick takes a period of 38 to 44 days before it can fly out of the nest.


Atlantic Puffin nests are shallow holes or burrows in the ground that they create with their bills and feet. Males and females work together to construct the nest, and the males usually do more of the excavation. They may make a nest under a boulder or in a rock crevice and put pieces of grass and twigs on the bottom of the burrow. The burrows are often used for a few years by a pair of Atlantic Puffins. They breed in colonies on islands in the North Atlantic without vegetation cover. The females only typically lay one egg, and it is between 1.7 and 1.9 inches in width and 2.3 to 2.6 inches in length.   


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Atlantic Puffins

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Atlantic Puffins are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Atlantic Puffin T-shirts

If you love the Atlantic Puffin you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Atlantic Puffin Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Atlantic Puffin is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

Atlantic Puffin Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Atlantic Puffin. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Atlantic Puffin Activities for Kids

We thought a fun perler bead pattern would be fun for kids. Please download and print with 100% scale to fit perfectly with perler bead patterns.

Bird Feeders For Atlantic Puffins

There are many types of bird feeders. Bird feeders are a great addition to your backyard. Bird feeders will increase the chances of attracting birds drastically. Both kids and adults will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. There are a wide variety of bird feeders on the market and it is important to find the best fit for you and your backyard.

Best Bird Houses For Atlantic Puffins

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

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