Puffins are fascinating, colorful birds that live in the northern parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. There are three kinds of puffins, Tufted Puffins, Horned Puffins and Atlantic Puffins. The first two are found only in the Pacific Ocean (I saw lots of both kinds while traveling on the Bering Sea in Alaska). On the coast of Maine, we find only the Atlantic Puffin.
Puffins live mostly at sea and are known for their colorful beaks. They only have the colorful part of their beaks during their mating season, and they only come on shore during their mating season. At other times of the year, they shed the color from their beaks and live at sea, feeding on fish and squid. They use their wings to both fly and swim. They can dive over 100 feet down into the water in order catch fish, and can hold up to 12 fish in their beaks as they swim. On land, they nest in colonies along the shore. Atlantic Puffins burrow into the ground and line their burrows with soft material to make a comfortable nest.
The Atlantic puffin lives in the far north and colonies were found as far south as Maine. The southern colonies disappeared as humans hunted the birds for meat, eggs and feathers. Project puffin has succesfully reestablished colonies of puffins on several islands off the coast of Maine, including Matinicus Rock.