The Atlantic puffin, once known as the common puffin, is one of four puffin species and the only one that inhabits the North Atlantic Ocean. During their summer breeding season, these “parrots of the sea” nest along rocky coastlines where they tend to their chicks in underground burrows. Once coupled up, puffins rarely change mates and return to the same nesting grounds year after year. When the pair reunites on land they rub their beaks together, an endearing behavior known as billing.
Puffins are known for their bright orange beaks and feet, but once breeding season ends they fade back to a drab gray. Around this time, puffins also return to their pelagic lifestyle—living far offshore directly over deep waters. These tiny birds are well-adapted to thrive out at sea with waterproof feathers and the ability to drink salt water. Strong swimmers and skilled divers they use their webbed feet like a rudder underwater and their wings like flippers to propel them further down to chase prey.