Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Body and Skeletal Structure:
Atlantic puffins can range from being 11 to 12.6 in (28-32 cm) tall, about 12 in (30.5 cm) long, and weigh about 13 to 17 oz (368.5-481.9 g). As for their wings, they can be about 18.5 to 24.8 in (47-63 cm) long.
These puffins are short and stocky birds. They have a white-colored underside (chest and belly) as well as face and cheeks. Their wings and back are colored in black. They have bright orange webbed feet, and a large, triangular parrot-like bill that is bright red, blue and partly yellow.
Fun Fact: After the breeding season, some of the bill’s outer horny plates fall off and the bill is smaller and duller, and its white face also becomes darker. Because of its differences during breeding and non-breeding season, it was once thought to be two separate species of bird.
Atlantic puffins are omnivorous birds, with solely carnivorous diets, that are often found diving for small fish, mollusks and crustaceans. Some of their specific prey animals include herring, sand eels, capelin, and the occasional squid.
Fun Fact: They swallow their catch underwater unless they’re feeding their young, at which time they can carry back as many as 30 fish at a time in their bills
Atlantic puffins tend live between 15 to 30 years of age.
Mating Season: Summer (Typically around April to August)
Incubation Period: About 40-45 days
Clutch Size: 1 egg
Communication and Behavior:
Atlantic puffins are sociable birds who mate for life and often live, and hunt, in groups called colonies. They are agile swimmers and efficient flyers, but the same can’t be said for their somewhat clumsy waddling on land. During the summer season, puffins tend to dig burrows to keep their egg, or young, safely hidden from predators. Their young are looked after (and incubated) by both parents who bring fish back from the sea for them. At about two months, the chick becomes independent. As for communication, they use body language (such as the ruffling of their feathers) and vocalization (like sharp squawks of agitation, or low “purring” noises during flight).
Fun Fact: Puffins are known to dive to depths of up to 197 ft (60 m) for as long as 2 minutes at a time, although the average dive usually only lasts for around 20 seconds.
Habitat and Range:
During the summer, these puffins tend to reside on the rocky cliffs by the coast. During the winter, they tend to stay far at sea on deep and icy water.
At the moment, Atlantic puffins are considered to be vulnerable. This is due to the threats of domestic and non-native (introduced) predators, coastal development (which causes habitat loss), oil spills, and even pollution.