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Image: Atlantic puffin
Atlantic puffin

Colourful beaks

Image: Arctic ecosystem
Arctic ecosystem

Official bird

The Atlantic puffin is the official bird of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Biodôme drew its inspiration from Labrador, in fact, when designing its Arctic ecosystem, where Atlantic puffins, razorbill auks, common murres and king eiders live together in harmony.

Image: Bonaventure Island
Bonaventure Island

These colony-forming birds, often called sea parrots, also live in Quebec; they are found in a number of seabird colonies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, for instance on Brion, Bonaventure and Anticosti islands and in the Mingan Archipelago.

Image: a pair of Atlantic puffins
a pair of Atlantic puffins

Mating season

Image: courting rituals
courting rituals

In the spring, puffins perform their courting rituals out at sea..

They have a whole range of very showy rituals.

Video: courting rituals

To attract females, the males:
- swim in noisy groups;
- flick their heads backwards;
- rise up and flap their wings.
Touching bills and bills to necks is mainly a way of reinforcing bonds between partners.

Video: mating

Puffins mate quite discreetly. They may sometimes make attempts near the nest, but most of the time they actually mate at sea.

The first video is from our ecosystem; the second was shot in the wild.

Image: nesting


In the wild, puffins make their nests:
in a burrow they dig with their feet and bill in earthen slopes...

Image: nesting

in crevices between rocks or moraine deposits.

Image: nesting

At the Biodôme, they live in burrows made specially for them.

Image: nesting

Both partners help to incubate the single egg, which weighs about 40 grams. Since a puffin’s “brood patch” is located on its side, they keep the egg under their wings, next to their bodies.

Image: puffin egg
puffin egg

- Reproductive age: 4 to 5 years old
- Puffins generally mate for life
- Number of clutches per year: 1
- Number of eggs: 1
- Length of incubation: 39 to 49 days
- Both male and female care for the young
- Young remain in the nest 38 to 41 days
- Age upon leaving the nest: 38 to 41 days

Image: puffin chick
puffin chick

Puffin chick

An average of 5 to 7 puffin chicks are born at the Biodôme every year.

Image: chick’s health
chick’s health

The animal attendants are kept very busy during that period.

They check the chick’s general health every day.

Image: chick’s health
chick’s health

The chick is weighed to make sure that the parents are feeding their sole offspring properly.

Image: chick’s health
chick’s health

The chick is fed a small fish full of vitamins.

Image: chick’s health
chick’s health

Finally, a bowl of fish is placed in the burrow so that the parents can feed their chick themselves.

As the chick grows, it learns to serve itself.

In the wild, the parents leave fish on the ground in the burrow.

Image: puffin chick
puffin chick

Atlantic puffin chicks are said to be “semiprecocial.”

They are born with their eyes open and their bodies covered in down. They can already leave the nest.

But they remain in the nest and the parents take care of them until they are almost adult size.

Image: Atlantic puffin's beak growth
Atlantic puffin's beak growth

From chick to adult...

For more information:
Descriptive records

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