What Do Puffins Eat?

All of a puffin’s bodily systems have been fine-tuned for living at sea. They have developed exceptional swimming skills, utilizing their wings to “fly” underwater and their feet for steering. Herring, hake, capelin, and sand lance are just a few of the small species they target. Outside of the breeding season, puffins spend their time in the air, on the water, or riding the waves of the ocean. They spend the entire winter at sea, feeding far out to sea.

Common prey for puffins includes herring, capelin, hake, and sand eels. They’ll even chow down on shrimp and mollusks. To a large extent, a puffin’s diet is determined by the available food in its environment. Despite the fact that many puffins consume just fish, we’ll find that their diets vary not only between colonies but even within them. Because puffins may be found in such a wide range of coastal habitats, their diets are equally diverse, reflecting the abundance or scarcity of certain foods depending on the location. A puffin’s diet is also highly dependent on the season. Fish, crabs, jellyfish, shrimp, mollusks, and other marine animals are all fair game for puffins.

Carnivorous birds, and puffins eat things like zooplankton, plankton, tiny fish, squid, crabs, and mollusks. Although omnivory is possible for them, meat is the mainstay of their diet. Puffins prefer the following foods: 

  • Sand Eel
  • Pollock
  • Glacier Lantern Fish
  • Sprat
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Sand Lance
  • Cod
  • Butterfish
  • White Hake
  • Acadian Redfish
  • Capelin
  • Squid
  • Octopus
  • Jellyfish
  • Krill

Puffins like to consume larger fish, but even when they do, they prefer to eat young, just a few months old. It’s still possible they’d try to eat a larger fish they caught in their beak. They require a daily diet of several dozen of tiny fish to stay alive, and their growing chick requires even more. Chicks have very specific dietary needs and prefer herring and other small whole fish.

Depending on the time of year and the types of fish that are shoaling in the area, their diets shift accordingly. Over the course of a year, a single colony consumes at least two metric tonnes of fish.

What is puffins’ favorite food?

Puffins are notoriously finicky eaters, and even within a colony, preferences can shift from year to year. Despite this, puffins’ favorite food is little fish. Their beaks can accommodate fish up to 18 centimeters (7 inches) in length, yet most eat only 7 centimetre fish (3 inches). We don’t know if puffins prefer smaller fish because of taste or because they’re easier to capture.

Where do Puffins look for prey?

Whenever a puffin sees a fish, it will dive into the water to catch it. They spend the colder months foraging for food and only return to their cliffside nests in the summer to reproduce.
Because of their social nature, puffins often travel in large numbers to the water in search of food. When they dive for food, their speedy flight speeds them along. They can hold their breath for up to two minutes, allowing them to dive 200 feet deep to catch fish.
Their beaks are tailor-made for catching fish, having spines on the tongue and upper beak to prevent the fish from slipping out of their hold. Puffins have such effective spines that they can resume fishing even after catching a fish, allowing them to bring home many meals for their young.
While out on the hunt, they create a makeshift raft to keep themselves safe from potential dangers. Sometimes these hunting parties may venture far out into the ocean to get a meal. However, a lone puffin has no one to share the spoils with when it comes to the actual catch.

What kind of food do baby puffins eat?

Young puffins get fed by their parents. For their young, adult puffins will go out and hunt, bringing back prey in their beaks. There is no sibling rivalry among puffins because each adult only has one chick to raise each year. 
The wings of a puffin help it to travel through the water, while the feet help it to steer. They use their eyes underwater to locate prey, and a single dive may yield as many as ten fish.
They can go as deep as 60 meters but only stay underwater for 30 seconds at a time. Therefore, they must take numerous swift, deep dives in order to satisfy their hunger. Larger marine predators, such as sharks, hunt on Puffins, but terrestrial animals and raptors also pose a threat. Here are some examples of creatures that eat puffins: Eagles, Hawks, Seagulls, Skuas, Foxes, Rats, Cetaceans, and other marine mammals, including Sharks. There are many potential dangers for puffins, but things could be worse. If they didn’t reside on grassy clifftops, predators would be more of a problem. Despite their aquatic prowess, puffins nevertheless face peril in the outside world. If a puffin is available, a shark will eat it. Because of all the potential predators, puffins dig a three-foot-deep hole and build a little cave inside to protect their eggs.

Also, know What Do Ostriches Eat?

Humans are puffins’ greatest natural enemies. Stray cats and dogs in areas where puffins also reside will occasionally eat puffins and their eggs. Puffins will be caught in fishing vessels’ salmon nets. Human activities like as oil spills, industrialization, and tourism are rapidly eradicating the puffin’s habitat. The population has dropped due to multiple factors, including overfishing of fish food sources and the effects of global warming on schooling fish.

Besides seafood, what else do puffins eat?

The puffin’s diet consists of a wide variety of marine organisms. Dietary choices are mostly determined by what is available in their geographic region. Consequently, squid, octopus, and shrimp are a staple diet for some puffins. Crabs and jellyfish are also popular with some. The zooplankton diet of other puffins has been observed.

Do People Eat Puffins?

Puffins are eaten by humans. Since the beginning of hunting, they have been a staple food item in their homeland. Puffins are commonly targeted throughout the summer when the colonies contain the most inhabitants.

Due to the extinction of their natural predators as a result of human consumption, they are no longer a good source of food for most people. Fewer puffin colonies survived because of human consumption. Puffin conservation efforts have helped slow the bird’s decline during the past century. Tourists to Iceland and the Faroe Islands need not despair; restaurants in places like Reykjavik continue to offer puffin as an option for diners.


Despite their lifelong commitment to one another, puffin couples only produce a single egg every year. They have a life expectancy of around 20 years. Puffins have been clocked reaching speeds of 50 mph while beating their wings at speeds of up to 400 times per minute. Despite their diminutive stature, these birds can reach a wing span of 2 feet.

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