Fratercula Arctica (Atlantic puffin)

What do they look like?

Sometimes known as the ‘clown of the sea’, the Atlantic puffin is an iconic species easily identifiable in the summer months by its black and white feathers, brightly coloured beak and orange legs. With fast wingbeats and a distinctive profile, this small seabird can often be spotted flying low over the waves. Puffins feed by diving up to 60 metres from the surface of the water in search of small fish such as herring, hake and sand eels.

When can I see them in Scotland?

March – August

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Puffins can be seen at a number of locations around the Scottish coast, including the Isle of May, Fidra, Craigleith, St Kilda, Orkney and Shetland. In the breeding season they gather at nesting sites (puffinries), which are usually burrows located on grassy clifftops. Puffins spend the winter months at sea.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Atlantic puffins are currently a ‘Red’ listed species.

Atlantic puffins are also listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

55 cm
36 - 43 days
34 - 44 days
18 years
Average Lifespan

puffins on the island of Fidra

Adopt a Puffin!
Help protect the wildlife you love by gifting a wildlife adoption pack. Choose from a gannet, puffin or grey seal. Funds from our wildlife adoptions provide vital support for our marine conservation and education work.

Adopt a Puffin and help fund vital conservation activity like our SOS Puffin project to protect puffin populations on the local islands.

Experience the spectacular seabird breeding season up close from one of our seasonal boat trips. Puffins only come ashore for a few months each year. The best time to see them in the Firth of Forth is April - July.

Close up of an Atlantic puffin
Close up of an Atlantic puffin
©Emily Burton