Puffin: Bird of the Week

The Puffin is one of the UK’s most popular birds and are sometimes referred to as clowns of the sea thanks to their distinctive colouring and brightly coloured bills.

By Kieren Puffett
Published 4 Jun 2018, 18:11 BST

Birds come in all shapes and sizes but few are as a recognisable, or popular, as the puffin. Earning themselves the nickname of “clowns of the sea” or “sea parrots” they are unmistakable with their black back and white underparts, distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and their brightly-coloured bill. Their comical appearance is heightened by their red and black eye-markings and bright orange legs.

Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, in fact, puffins are tough and resourceful birds spending most of their time out at sea, only coming to shore during the spring and summer to raise a family. They lay just one egg and both parents share feeding duties. You can watch adults returning from their fishing forays with beakfuls of sand eels.

Puffins spend most of their time at sea and only come to shore to raise a family.
Photograph by RSPB Images

But the decline of the puffin population is no laughing matter. Experts predict the UK could lose up to eight million puffins over the next 50 years. Like many seabirds who call Britain home, puffins are facing a tough time as they come up against changes to their habitat, new predator threats, lack of food and rising sea temperatures due to climate change.

If you want to see puffins this summer, head to the coast and visit seabird colonies like RSPB's Bempton Cliffs (North Yorkshire), South Stack Cliffs (Anglesey) or Rathlin Island (Northern Island).

Experts predict that the UK could lose up to 8 million puffins over the next 50 years as they face changes to their habitat, climate change, predator threats and lack of food. Puffins feed on sand eels.
Photograph by RSPB Images
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