Learn About the Amazing Puffin!


Puffin Facts

  1. North Atlantic Puffins beat their wings up to 300 times per minute to stay aloft.
  2. A puffin can sometimes have a dozen or more fish in its beak at once by holding them in an alternating end to end pattern.
  3. Puffins go to colonies like Witless Bay specifically to breed.  Mates are chosen before the pair heads to the colony.
  4. The Atlantic Puffin is sometimes nicknamed “Clown of the Ocean” or “Sea Parrot”.
    Predators of the Atlantic Puffin include the Great Black-Backed Gull, which will catch a puffin in flight, or pick off one separated from the colony.
  5. Puffin mates produce a single-egg clutch each year with incubation responsibilities shared between both parents. Total incubation time is around 39-45 days.
  6. The Atlantic Puffin is the only puffin species that is found in the Atlantic Ocean.
  7. Puffins are about 25 cm (10 inches) tall and weigh about 450 grams.  Many people imagine them to be larger than they really are.
  8. Very young puffins look like tiny balls of black, downy feathers.  As they grow, they acquire black plumage with gray cheeks and black bills.
  9. While the eggs of most seabirds are camouflaged, the eggs of seabirds that nest in burrows like puffins are white.
  10. Puffins can live for more than 20 years.  The oldest known puffin was estimated at about 32 years of age!
  11. To wean their chicks, puffins simply scale back the amount of food they bring them.  Once hunger wins out, the chick will journey to the ocean during the night to avoid predators.
  12. Puffins nest on coastal islands in Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and in the Canadian Arctic.  They also nest in Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the British Isles.
  13. Puffin burrows are 1 to 2 meters deep, often turning at sharp angles to the right, left, up, and down.
  14. Puffins lay a single egg and rear a single chick each year. The parents take turns sitting on the egg for about 40 days before it hatches.
  15. Puffin pairs most often mate for life. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are about 500,000 pairs.  That’s 1,000,000 individual puffins!
  16. Puffins spend their first three years of life out at sea.  They return to land once they reach maturity.
  17. Puffins are insulated from the cold by an oily coating on their feathers.  Without this coating, they would never survive Atlantic winters.
  18. The color of a puffin’s beak brightens during the mating season but remains quite dull during the rest of the year.
  19. Puffins will sometimes compete over territory by locking beaks and wrestling until one of them is on the ground.
  20. Puffins primarily eat fish, particularly female Capelin, but will also eat crustaceans and squid.
  21. The largest puffin colony in the western Atlantic (estimated at more than 260,000 pairs) can be found at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, south of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  22. Atlantic Puffins can dive approximately 50-200 feet underwater.