The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), is a species of seabird in the auk family (Alcidea), he is one of the smaller auks, and also the most common. The puffin is most commonly found around the coast of Iceland, around sixty percent of the population breeds in Iceland.
The puffin can be found in the North Atlantic, he breeds in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Norway, along the coast of Maine in the US, in Ireland and United Kingdom in the east. It is believed that the total population of the puffin is around 14 million and the largest puffin colony can be found in Vestmannaeyjar, Westman Islands in Iceland.
The puffin is a rather small bird, around 26-29 cm long and weights around 450-500g. His wingspan is around 47-65 cm. What makes the puffin special is the colourful, flat-sided beak. The adult puffin is black on top, white below, with black cap and black collar, his legs are orange.
The Puffin’s main food is sand eel and capelin, as well as fry, snake pipefish and krill. He is a good diver and dives for food to the depth of 60 meters and can spend about 1.5 minutes underwater.
The Puffin spends most of his time out on sea but around april/mai the breeding season begins so they start nesting on grassy islands, headlands and slopes above clifftops or in screes below cliffs. Egg-laying usually begins in June in Iceland, but it can vary between locations. The female lays a single white egg each year, if it’s early in the breeding season she might lay another egg. Like most birds the puffin does not lay on the eggs but keeps them warm under their wings, both parents share the incubation responsibilities.
The incubation time is around 42 days and the parents usually leave the chick when he is about 40 days old. The chick is called Puffling (Pysja in Iceland). Puffling usually leaves the nest in the middle of August and heads for the sea to look for food. In the Westman islands pufflings sometimes gets lost because of the lights from the houses and wanders into the town. It’s a tradition for the children in Westman islands to save the lost pufflings, they gather them together and then release them to the ocean.
Best time to spot puffins is in end of April until early September. Best time of the day to spot them is in the morning (07:00-10:00) and in the evening (18:00-22:00).