Observing one of these is a bird watcher’s dream come true because of the fact that they are not typically commonplace in the world. As the name suggests, they can only be found along the coast of the northern Atlantic Ocean and only during specific time frames of the year. If you are in the process of building a life list, or a set of goals, this is definitely one bird that will set you head and shoulders above the others.
The Atlantic Puffin is one of the most beautiful bird and they belong to the Auk bird family. It is a seabird, and this little bird survives by being a fisher in the ocean, often diving 50 feet or more to catch it’s own dinner. It is distinguished by its unique white lower body, which contrasts with it’s back and wings of midnight black. The head is black topped with white around the eyes and extending outwards to the beak. The beak is a magnificence of sweeping colors with yellow, black and red being the dominant colors, and the colorings lead to the nicknames ‘clown of the ocean’ and ‘sea parrot’ for this bird.
This is truly the only member of the Puffin family of birds which are found in the Atlantic Ocean region, and is typically found in northern reaches, from Maine up through the arctic and down throughout northern Europe. Occasionally though, the Puffin will range as far south as North Carolina on the coast of North America, but not very often. For bird watcher’s in the continental United States and elsewhere, this makes the bird a sighting worth having in your portfolio!
The Atlantic Puffin seems to be a bird that teeters back and forth between population issues. In the 1800s, the bird was under serious pressure due to the harvesting of its eggs by humans. Coming to shore to mate in cliff outcrops, the female laid only one egg. The losses thus were substantial and the bird nearly disappeared. Recently, populations have begun to grow again, but now new threats exist. Gulls and rat populations are once again threatening the breading grounds of these exquisite birds, although current conservation efforts are fighting back and populations are at least remaining steady with some studies suggesting they are actually growing at a rate of five to ten percent.
If the opportunity presents itself, a birding watching expedition to view the Atlantic Puffin is definitely worth a go. The birds have a relatively small onshore territory, which makes them a fairly rare bird watchers find for the avid birder.