Newfoundland is a place of stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture and rich, colourful history. It is Canada’s most easterly province and is also the most easterly land mass in all of North America. The incredible rugged hiking cliffs of the Northeastern Newfoundland coastline has been carved and shaped over the centuries by the unrelenting tides of the cold Atlantic Ocean. It is here on these Bonavista Peninsula cliffs that one can hike and find Newfoundland’s bird, the Atlantic Puffin.
The province of Newfoundland is home to hundreds of Atlantic Puffin colonies and in 1992 the province adopted the Atlantic Puffin as the official provincial bird. Newfoundland’s bird, our beloved Puffin, is cute and colorful during the summer breeding season and takes on a clown-like appearance well suited to its personality. For instance, Atlantic Puffins are notorious for crash landing and if Puffins eat too much they become too heavy to fly. Their short wings however, allow them to dive up to 200 feet deep and are ideal for underwater flight, which is necessary to avoid predators like seals and Orca whales.
Atlantic Puffin with FishPuffins are migratory seabirds and live mostly at sea preferring to spend winters in the open ocean. Atlantic Puffins can cover a very wide range stretching across most of the Northern Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Europe and from Greenland down to Maine USA. Estimates vary but the population of Atlantic Puffins is believed to be around 14 million. The Atlantic Puffin is a small seabird and when full grown will measure only about 10 inches tall, weigh just over 1 pound and have a wing span just shy of 2 feet. After breeding season when Atlantic Puffins head out to the open ocean to feed, they lose their bright orange and yellow beak colours and their winter beaks take on a more dullish black appearance, perhaps for camouflage purposes.
Puffin Habitat & Breeding
Atlantic Puffin Habitat The Rock, a term affectionately named for Newfoundland by the local people, is the ideal home for the Atlantic Puffin. The Atlantic Puffin colony near Bonavista is perhaps one of North America’s most accessible Puffin habitats. Puffin colonies can be quite large. It is not uncommon to see a Puffin breeding colony with hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of Puffin pairs. The average life expectancy for Atlantic Puffins is about 25 years. Puffins are monogamous seabirds and will remain with the same mate for life, returning year after year (around April) to their familiar nesting site. Female puffins prefer to nest in cliff-top underground burrows where they lay a single egg each breeding season. Atlantic Puffin Pair Incubation of a Puffin egg takes about six weeks. Once the Puffling is hatched both female and male Puffins are responsible for feeding and parenting. It takes another six weeks for the Pufflings to mature enough to leave the burrow. Young Puffins must leave the nest under the cover of darkness to avoid seagulls and other predators. Once the young Atlantic Puffins leave the nest they are on their own and head out to the open sea. Young Atlantic Puffins will remain at sea for at least two to five years before returning to the colony and their old Puffin habitat in hopes of finding a mate and to seek out a suitable burrow.
Bird Watchers’ Paradise
Atlantic Puffin Walk Bird lovers from around the world come to Bonavista to explore our natural Puffin habitat because it is readily accessible and can be observed up close with minimal disturbance to the Puffins. In fact, clients tell us if they lay down the Puffin will walk on their chest and remain for a few minutes! When the Puffin colony takes to the air however, it is a spectacular sight to see thousands of Puffins flying in formation around their Puffin habitat. The Puffin habitat near our authentic replica Newfoundland Cottages in Bonavista Newfoundland is one of the province’s largest. When you stay at Elizabeth J. Cottages it is a 5 minute drive to to our Bonavista Lighthouse. Look across the fence where the Puffins stay on a huge rock filled with small slanting holes. Experience the joy of watching these little birds walk out of their cave-like homes to stand around and chat with fellow Puffin neighbors. You will be mesmerized by their community spirit and laugh when they fly off to get food and come back a little more wobbly with their tummies filled with food. The Puffins arrive during April and May with the peak of breeding season occurring in June and July. The Atlantic Puffin habitat is generally deserted after August as the birds head out to the open ocean for winter feeding. Newfoundland is the 16th largest island in the world with a coastline that stretches for over 29,000 Km (over 18,000 miles). The Rock is a virtual birdwatchers’ paradise with over 350 different species of seabirds, many of which can be witnessed up close. Along with the Atlantic Puffin, birdwatchers can enjoy Gannets, Gulls, Fulmars, Razorbills, Boreal Owls, Storm Petrels, Falcons, Osprey and American Eagles among others.
View Atlantic Puffins from Our Newfoundland Cottages
Atlantic Puffins arrive in the Bonavista area around the second week May and are generally here all summer. You can view our Newfoundland Puffins right up until the first week of September, which is when they start to migrate. Passing icebergs are visible from May to July while whales and dolphins can often be seen between May and October. There is a very large Atlantic Puffin habitat adjacent to our Luxury Newfoundland Cottages for Rent, which is home to a very vibrant Puffin colony during breeding season (April – August). The cottages are within a 160 feet of the shoreline with unobstructed views of Atlantic Puffins, playful Whales and passing Newfoundland Icebergs. I invite you come and discover a little piece of heaven in one of North America’s most beautiful locations, Bonavista, Newfoundland. Please call Toll Free 1-866-468-5035 anytime or Email Newfoundland Cottages. I look forward to meeting you!