Atlantic PuffinPhotos, Pictures, Prints

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Clowns of the Sea

The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) is a species of seabird in the auk family. Notably, it is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its striking appearance, large colorful bill and waddling gait, this bird is sometimes called the “clown of the sea”.

This puffin breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland and many North Atlantic islands. They even venture as far south as Maine and the British Isles.

Atlantic puffins spend the autumn and winter in the open ocean and return to coastal areas at the start of the spring breeding season. They nest in clifftop colonies, digging burrows in which to lay a single egg. Once hatched, the chick mostly feeds on fish. After about six weeks, it makes its way at night to the sea. From there, it swims away from the shore and does not return to land for several years.

These birds usually form colonies on islands where there are no terrestrial predators. However, adult birds and newly fledged chicks are at risk of attack by gulls and skuas.

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