©Tom Marshall

Puffins on cliff

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Puffin on water

©Rob Jordan/2020VISION

Puffin diving underwater

Puffin ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Puffin in flight

©Rob Jordan/2020VISION


Scientific name: Fratercula arctica
A funny little fellow in his glossy black dinner jacket and crisp white bib, the puffin is instantly recognisable from its brightly coloured parrot-like bill. Puffins use their colourful bill to attract a mate, the male with the brightest bill is considered the most handsome!

Species information


Length: 26-29cm
Wingspan: 55cm
Weight: 400g
Average lifespan: 18 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Listed as Vulnerable on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

When to see

March to August


Sometimes referred to the ‘sea parrot’ the puffin is instantly recognisable from its brightly coloured parrot-like bill. Spending winter at sea, every year thousands of puffins return to the UK to nest in their little hobbit-like burrows in the ground. Puffins are loyal to one another, each year mating with the same bird and producing one chick. This one chick, known as a puffling, keeps its parents busy though fishing to keep it well-fed and satisfied. Their favourite meal is sand eel which they catch by diving and swimming using their wings.

How to identify

The puffin is black above, with a white belly and cheeks, a large, multicoloured bill, and orange, webbed feet.


Nests on cliffs and islands at scattered locations around the coast of Scotland, northern England, South West England and Wales.

Did you know?

The puffin is also known as the 'Sea Parrot' due to its brightly coloured bill, which is part of its breeding plumage. The bill is serrated to hold fish in place; one puffin was recorded as having 83 small sandeels in its bill at once!