Fratercula arctica Linnaeus, 1758, Norway. Three subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Atlantic puffin; French: Macareux moine; German: Papageitaucher; Spanish: Frailecillo Atlбntico.
11–14.6 in (28–37 cm); 10.6–21.1 oz (300–600 g). Distinctive large, triangular, mostly yellow and orange bill with bluish gray base; yellowish mouth and tongue. White to grayish face, black band from forehead to nape, grayish chin. Mostly black upperparts; snowy white underparts; orange to yellowish orange legs and feet.
The puffin winters at sea in the North Atlantic and breeds on the American and European coasts. Range includes the Baltic Sea and eastern Mediterranean.
Marine areas near rocky coasts and islands with suitable conditions for digging burrows.
A strong flier, the puffin is rarely seen near land except during the breeding season. The adults give moaning or bellowing calls. While at sea, puffins have been known to gather in groups with murres and razorbills, although the puffins tend to stay on the periphery of any mixed gatherings.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Puffins eat mainly fish. The species is known for its habit of packing dozens of small fish crossways in its bill to bring back to its young.
Couples engage in mating displays in which they tap their prominent bills together. Mating takes place at sea. Puffins nest at the far end of long passageways, which they dig with their beaks and talons into the loose earth covering the rocks. Breeding places may be on crags close to the sea, or several hundred meters removed from the coast. The single egg shell is white and has almost invisible dots. The nestling wears a “furry” down that is dense and soft. Fledglings leave the nest after 36–47 days.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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