Taxonomy

Fratercula arctica | Atlantic Puffin | Puifín

Distribution

Status

Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

The IUCN Red List classifies the Puffin as ‘Vulnerable’ on a global scale in their most recent assessment (2018) and population trends are noted as decreasing. 

Species Biology

Identification

The Puffin is a highly recognisable bird that is readily identified by its black back and head with white cheeks, white underparts, bright orange legs and vibrant bill.

An individual with its first winter plumage can be distinguished from a Guillemot by its smaller size, thicker body and larger head.

The Puffin stands at approximately 28 cm in length with a wingspan of 47-63 cm. Weight can range from 320-480 grams. 

Diet

Being a marine species, the Puffins diet consists of various marine life such as fish and crustaceans.

A favoured food item among the Puffins are sandeels. Countless images can be seen online whereby Puffins are holding large numbers of sandeels in their brightly coloured beaks. 

Habitat

This species is highly associated with marine habitats and will be found on suitable coasts and islands.

Suitable nesting habitat includes burrows or cracks in steep cliffs that are safe from mammalian predators. Offshore islands are particularly suitable as they are much safer. 

Reproduction

During the breeding season, a single egg is laid and both parents will take turns incubating the egg for a period of 36-45 days. This egg will weigh approximately 64 grams.

The fledging period can take anywhere from 34 to 60 days.

An average wild Puffin can live for 18-20 years and will reach breeding age at five years. 

Distribution

World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The Puffin winters in the North Atlantic Ocean and is therefore only found along the Irish coast from March to September (breeding season).

There are a few Puffin hotspots around the Irish coast during the summer months. Traditional breeding colonies occur at The Skelligs off County Kerry, The Cliffs of Moher in county Clare and the Saltee Islands off County Wexford. 

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

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