|Scientific name:||Fratercula arctica|
Summer visitor from March to September to sea stacks and cliffs, mainly along the west coast of Ireland.
The smallest species of Auk in Ireland, a highly marine species which is only found on land in the breeding season. A black and white seabird, with black above and white below. In the breeding season the parrot like multi-coloured bill and large white patch on the face make adults distinctive and easily recognisable at close quarters. The bill is smaller on the adult in winter and much smaller on the juvenile. At a distance can be told from Guillemot by its small size, thicker body, larger, heavier head and darker underwing.
Deep grunting, mainly from the burrow.
Marine fish and crustaceans.
Attends colonies from April and early August. Nests in colonies in burrows, or sometimes in boulder screes and in cracks in steep cliffs, rather like Razorbills and Black Guillemots. Will utilize rabbit burrows and will evict rabbits. Usually nests in areas that are safe from mammalian predators, for which reason it prefers off- shore islands.
Winters far out to sea and not often seen outside of the breeding season.
Breeding seabirds are monitored through surveys carried out every 15-20 years, the last was Seabird 2000, which was undertaken between 1998 & 2002.
The Puffin is found mainly on the west coast with a scattering of east coast sites. Great Saltee is a good place to see Puffins. The Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare and Horn Head, in County Donegal, are also accessible sites. The Skelligs off County Kerry have one of the largest Puffin populations which is of International importance.
Winters far out in the North Atlantic Ocean only returning to land to nest. Wintering further out to sea than all other Auks.