Puffin, a diving bird of northern seacoasts. It is related to the auk, murre, and guillemot. The puffin sometimes is called the sea parrot because of its large, triangular beak, which is gaudily marked with red and yellow in the breeding season.

The puffinThe puffin is sometimes called the sea parrot.

The puffin is a stout-bodied bird with webbed feet and short wings. It swims expertly in pursuit of fish. On land, the puffin walks with a stiff, waddling gait. Puffins nest in large colonies on grassy slopes near the shore. Each pair digs a burrow about three feet (1 m) deep. The single white egg is incubated chiefly by the female. Both parents feed the chick for about six weeks, then desert it. The chick remains in the burrow for another week while its flight feathers grow. Then, it makes its way to the shore and flies out to sea. In two to three years, the puffin returns to the hatching site to breed.

The common puffin of the North Atlantic is 12 inches (30 cm) long, with a black back and neck, white cheeks, and white breast. The slightly larger North Pacific species are the horned puffin, which is black and white and has a horny growth above each eye; and the tufted puffin, which is mostly black and has a long, curved, yellowish tuft on each side of the head.

The common puffin is Fratercula arctica; horned, F. corniculata; tufted, Lunda cirrhata. All belong to the auk family, Alcidae.