Where Do Puffins Live? All you Need to Know

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Often referred to as the clown or parrot of the sea, the Atlantic puffins are most commonly observed during the summer when they are breeding. They belong to a group of birds with only three species in their category, and they are a must-see for any avid birdwatcher. So, where can you find these birds?

Atlantic Puffins have a wide presence across the northern Atlantic Ocean. However, their location varies depending on the time of year. During the summer, Puffins live close to their breeding colonies, while in the winter, they venture out into the open ocean.

Atlantic Puffins are true seafarers. They only come to land to build nests and raise a single chick each year. They prefer nesting sites on islands, cliffs, and rocky slopes with lots of hiding spots to protect them from predators. Puffins spend the majority of their lives in the sea, diving and swimming beneath the surface to catch their food.

This article explores where Atlantic Puffins are found and their preferred habitat. Keep reading to discover the locations where you can catch sight of these colorful seabirds.

During the summer, Puffins live near their breeding colonies, while they spend the winter at sea During the summer, Puffins live near their breeding colonies, while they spend the winter at sea

What regions do Puffins inhabit?

Atlantic Puffins inhabit the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere. These birds, which migrate, nest on islands and cliffs during the spring and summer. Their nesting sites are scattered along the Northeast Coast of North America, Greenland, Iceland, Western Europe, and eastern Russia.

During non-breeding seasons, Atlantic Puffins can be found in various offshore areas from their nesting sites, although they tend to favor specific winter locations.

However, during the winter, they do not remain near their breeding sites in western Greenland and Hudson Bay. Instead, Puffins disperse across the open ocean for most of the year, even sleeping on the sea.

Atlantic Puffins inhabit the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere Atlantic Puffins inhabit the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere

Where can you find Puffins in the United States?

Puffins primarily breed along the East Coast of the United States. Although a few individuals have been spotted as far south as Florida, they are rarely seen south of Massachusetts. Puffin breeding takes place on a handful of islands in the Gulf of Maine, including Eastern Egg Rock and Matinicus Rock.

The coasts of Massachusetts New Hampshire Maine are the most likely places to spot Atlantic Puffins

Where can you find Puffins in Canada?

Atlantic Puffins congregate on small islands along the eastern coast of Canada for nesting. These colonies stretch from the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait around Nunavut in the north to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the south. During the winter, they travel far offshore to find food.

Where do Puffins inhabit in the UK?

Puffins can be observed by bird enthusiasts from various points along the UK coastline, although they are most commonly seen near their breeding colonies in the Northeast of England, the Orkney Islands, and the northern parts of Scotland.

Puffins can also be spotted on the western coast, from the Isles of Scilly in the south, along Wales, around Ireland and Northern Ireland, and all the way through the Irish Sea to the western coast of Scotland.

Puffin landing on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK Puffin landing on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK

Where do Puffins live in Iceland?

Iceland’s largest breeding colony of Puffins is on the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), located just south of mainland Iceland. However, Iceland is renowned for its population of Atlantic Puffins, and breeding colonies can be found all around its rugged coastline.

What is the natural habitat of a Puffin?

Puffins are seabirds and are not found inland. They build nests near the shoreline in rocky and grassy areas along both island and mainland coasts, while they search for food out in the sea. These birds travel considerable distances from land during the times they are not breeding, often favoring the Boreal and Arctic waters.

Puffins are typically seen near the coast, residing on cliffs and grassy habitats Puffins are typically seen near the coast, residing on cliffs and grassy habitats

How common is it to spot a Puffin?

The population of Atlantic Puffins is declining in many parts of their range due to climate change, overfishing, and other factors. Regrettably, they have even been classified as endangered in some places where they were once plentiful.

Spotting these birds out at sea during their non-breeding period can be a challenge, but visiting well-known breeding colonies in the summer can provide a reliable opportunity to observe these charming birds.

What time of day are Puffins active?

Puffins are active during the daytime, which means they search for food while the sun is up. Birdwatchers can observe them returning to their nests throughout the day, carrying fish in their bills to feed their growing chicks. Keep an eye out for Puffins lingering around the colony in the evening or floating on the water nearby.

Do Puffins remain in one location?

Puffins are migratory birds, so they live in different places at different times of the year. During the breeding season, they stay close to their nesting colony, flying up to 30 miles daily to find food for their single chick.

Atlantic Puffins tend to return to the same colony each year and often mate with the same partner. While most Puffins come back to nest in the colony where they were born, they might move to other spots when space is limited.

Puffin swimming in the ocean, Maine, USA Puffin swimming in the ocean, Maine, USA

Where do Puffins spend the winter?

Puffins spend most of the year at sea, including the winter months. During this time, they don’t come to land at all, not even for resting. Continue reading to discover where they go.

Atlantic Puffins that breed in the Gulf of Maine have been tracked migrating to spend the winter near Georges Bank, approximately two hundred miles from the coast. Puffins that breed in the UK venture into the Atlantic Ocean, remain in the North Sea, or travel south to spend the winter in the Bay of Biscay.

Where do Puffins live in the summer?

Puffins live near their breeding colonies during the summer months. These colonies can be found along the coastlines of the following countries:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Greenland
  • Iceland
  • The United Kingdom
  • Norway
  • Russia

Do Puffins stay together in groups?

Puffins are social birds that nest in large colonies, some of which can house over a million birds that return annually. During the breeding season, they often form small groups or rafts, floating closely together within a few feet or inches.

In the winter, Puffins disperse widely, usually foraging either alone or in pairs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Puffin Distribution

Do Puffins live in the Arctic or Antarctic?

Puffins inhabit the Arctic region in the northern part of their range. They are not found near Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere.

Do Puffins coexist with penguins?

Puffins and penguins are often mixed up, but they are distinct birds and never inhabit the same areas. Puffins are found only in the northern two-thirds of the Earth, while penguins exclusively live in the Southern Hemisphere.

What kind of climate do Puffins prefer?

Puffins live in temperate and polar zones in the Northern Hemisphere. Occasionally, they venture into subtropical areas during the winter, sometimes appearing as far south as Florida.

Where can Puffins be found in Alaska?

Tufted Puffins and Horned Puffins are common along the Alaskan coastline. These birds can be spotted off the south coast throughout the year, but they only visit the west coast during the summer breeding season.

Where can Puffins be found in Maine?

Puffins are summer visitors to the Gulf of Maine for breeding purposes. Their numbers are on the rise thanks to conservation efforts that have successfully reintroduced them to islands like Eastern Egg Rock. During the winter, they move offshore, although they can still be seen near Georges Bank where they search for food.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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