AboutPuffins are any of three small species of auk (or alcids) in the bird genus Fratercula with a brightly coloured beak in the breeding season. These are pelagic seabirds that feed primarily by diving in the water. They breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, nesting in crevices among rocks or in burrows in the soil. Two species, the Tufted Puffin and Horned Puffin, are found in the North Pacific Ocean, while the best known species, the iconic Atlantic Puffin, is found in the North Atlantic Ocean. Iceland is the home to most of the Atlantic Puffins with about 10 million individuals. The largest single puffin colony in the world is in Westmann Isles, islands that belong to Iceland. In 2009, scientists estimated the number of nests to be 1.1 million, and number of individuals there is estimated to be up to 4.0 millions.
All puffin species have predominantly black or black and white plumage, a stocky build, and bear large beaks. They shed the colourful outer parts of their bills after the breeding season, leaving a smaller and duller beak. Their short wings are adapted for swimming with a flying technique under water. In the air, they beat their wings rapidly (up to 400 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over the ocean's surface.