Family Auks (Alcidae)


Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)


French: Macareux moine German: Papageitaucher Spanish: Frailecillo atlántico

Alca arctica


, 1758,

northern Norway


Birds from high Arctic (NE Canada and NW Greenland E to N Novaya Zemlya) described as form naumanni, and those from S of range (Faeroes and S Scandinavia S through British Is to NW France) as grabae, but geographical variation clinal, involving wing length, bill length and bill depth, and boundaries between forms somewhat arbitrary#R. Treated as monotypic.


NE & E Canada (high E Arctic to SE Baffin I and Hudson Bay) and NE USA (Maine) E through Greenland to Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya, S to Iceland, Bear I, S Scandinavia, Kola Peninsula, Faeroes, British Is, Channel Is and NW France. Winters at sea, mostly in boreal waters S to New Jersey, Azores, Canary Is and W Mediterranean, rarely to Virginia and NW Africa.

Descriptive notes

26–36 cm; 460 g; wingspan 47–63 cm. Large, triangular red bill, laterally compressed, with distinct transverse ridges across upper mandible, bluish grey at base... read more


Generally silent at sea. At breeding colonies, usually heard from inside nesting burrows, a low-... read more


Exclusively marine, occurring along rocky coasts and offshore islands. Breeds on grassy-turfed... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish throughout year, supplemented mainly late summer to spring by small crustaceans (euphausiids, copepods), polychaetes (nereids)... read more


Arrival and start of laying variable between regions, usually earlier and with more extended pre-laying and laying periods at extreme... read more


Winters largely offshore, widely dispersed at relatively low densities, sometimes off the... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. The global breeding population was estimated in the 1990s at c. 6,000,000 pairs (3,800,000–8,200,000), of which c. 60% in boreal zone (S Iceland to... read more

Recommended citation

Nettleship, D.N., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A., Sharpe, C.J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).