©Tom Marshall

Puffins on cliff

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Puffin on water

©Rob Jordan/2020VISION

Puffin diving underwater

Puffin ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Puffin in flight

©Rob Jordan/2020VISION


Scientific name: Fratercula arctica
With a brightly coloured bill, orange feet and waddling walk, the much-loved puffin has a clown-like appearance. It can be seen nesting on clifftops and islands in northern England, Wales and the Scottish Isles.

Species information


Length: 26-29cm
Wingspan: 55cm
Weight: 400g
Average lifespan: 18 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Listed as Vulnerable on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

When to see

March to August


A small auk, the puffin is familiar as the 'clown' of the coast with its brightly coloured bill, bumpy landings and waddling walk. Puffins live in burrows in the short grass at the top of cliffs. They feed on fish, such as sandeels, which they catch by diving beneath the surface and using their wings to swim.

For most of the year, puffins are out at sea, returning to land to breed. During the breeding season, displays of bill-knocking and ritualised walking will result in mating pairs producing one egg, which is laid at the end of the burrow. The chick remains in the burrow until it is independent and ready to go to sea.

How to identify

The puffin is black above, with a white belly and cheeks, a large, multicoloured bill, and orange, webbed feet.


Nests on cliffs and islands at scattered locations around the coast of Scotland, northern England, South West England and Wales.

Did you know?

The puffin is also known as the 'Sea Parrot' due to its brightly coloured bill, which is part of its breeding plumage. The bill is serrated to hold fish in place; one puffin was recorded as having 83 small sandeels in its bill at once!


How people can help

Thousands of birds, insects and other animals across England are finding it harder and harder to survive. Can you help create a Wilder Future for them?

The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people to make our seas healthier for wildlife. You can also do your bit for our seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.