Scotland’s smallest and most distinctive breeding auk species with black upper parts and white under parts.

Adults have a distinctive rainbow coloured deep bill as well as white cheeks and a conspicuous, clown-like black stripe down over each red-ringed eye. They nest underground in borrows.

An oceanic bird, puffins are summer visitors that arrive to nest between late March and early April in the vast coastal clifftop colonies. By the end of August they have finished rearing their young and leave to return to the sea.
Found in extensive cliff top colonies around the coasts of Scotland from Galloway to Wick, on the islands and along the eastern cliffs from North Berwick to Berwick-on-Tweed. Scotland’s largest single colony is found on the island of St Kilda (136,000 pairs). The fastest growing colony has been on the Isle of May. Best seen during the late afternoon and early evening, when not feeding or incubating, puffins are gregarious gathering together in “rafts” close offshore, or spending time together on the slabs and tussocks outside their nests.
When St Kilda was inhabited, puffin were a major source of income (meat and feathers) and food for the local inhabitants. An estimated harvest of 79,000 birds was recorded in one year. They are protected now in the UK, but are still harvested in Iceland.


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