Irish Birds logo

Irish Birds Home > Puffin

Puffins in Ireland

Male and female puffin

The puffin is one of Ireland's most recognisable birds. With it's squat stature, black & white plumage, and multi-coloured beak the puffin is widely loved.

They are mostly pelagic but visit Irish shores in Spring and Summer. Puffins are a type of auk and feed by diving after their prey into the sea.

A classic image of puffins shows them holding a number of sand eels in their beak at the same time.

Irish Name for Puffin

The Irish word for puffin is Puifin.

Puffin Feeding

Like many auks, puffins eat both fish and zooplankton. However they feed their single chick small marine fish including sand eel and herring. As mentioned earlier puffins are unusual in their ability to hold up to twelve small fish at a time. They do this rather than regurgitating swallowed fish.

This permits them to take longer hunting trips, since they can come back with more food energy for their chick. This unique behaviour is made possible by a hinging mechanism of their bill that allows the upper and lower biting edges to meet at a number of different angles.

Puffins Nesting

Puffin nesting with egg

Puffins nest in colonies along the Irish coast and on offshore islands. The will nest in crevices, wide cracks and burrows. They have even been known to evict rabbits from their burrows. Puffins try to avoid areas where mammalian predators might exist.

They lay a single white egg which they incubate for 36 to 43 days. The chick usually fledges 34-44 days after hatching.

Interesting Facts About Puffins

A puffin has been recorded with a total of 83 sand eels in it's beak.

The oldest puffin ever recorded was one specimen in 2012 aged almost 37 years - 36 years, 11 months, and 22 days.

 

Puffin

Scientific Name:
Fratercula arctica

Order:
Charadriiformes

Family:
Alcidae

Irish Status:
Summer visitor

Length: 28cm Wingspan: 55cm Weight: M & F: 0.4kg

Call: Deep grunting, mostly when in the burrow.

Habitat: Coatal areas and islands, otherwise pelagic.

Diet: Mostly fish, eels and some crustaceans.

Nesting:
April to August
Breeding Age:
From 5 years
Number of Eggs:
1
No. of Clutches:
1
Incubation (days):
36-43
Fledging (days):
34-44
Lifespan:
18 years

Conservation Status in Ireland: Amber

Puffin Range in Ireland

The puffin is an Spring & Summer visitor to coastal and island locations throughout Ireland.

Map of the range of Puffins in Ireland.

Arctic Terns in Ireland - Blue Tits in Ireland - Coal Tits in Ireland - Goldfinches in Ireland - Great Tits in Ireland - Grey Herons in Ireland - Jackdaws in Ireland - Longtailed Tits in Ireland - Magpies in Ireland - Mallards in Ireland - Mistle Thrushes in Ireland - Mute Swans in Ireland - Pheasants in Ireland - Puffins in Ireland - Robins in Ireland - Rooks in Ireland - Song Thrushes in Ireland - Starlings in Ireland - Swallows in Ireland - Swans in Tallaght - Swans Oil-Damaged - Waxwings in Ireland - Woodpigeons in Ireland - Wrens in Ireland

Irish Birds - hibernianbirds@gmail.com