Atlantic Puffin
(Fratercula arctica)


Picture of bird
© John Reaume
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Atlantic Puffins mainly congregate at large breeding colonies on offshore islands in Atlantic Canada. They were hunted heavily in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but populations have since regained some of their former abundance and range. Population trends vary among colonies but overall, the population has exhibited a moderate increase in abundance in Canada since about 1970. Although population trends are generally positive, the species is sensitive to fisheries bycatch and other anthropogenic threats; ongoing monitoring is warranted for this charismatic species. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaModerate IncreaseMedium

Population estimate

Canada> 1,000,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Prior to the 1990s, many Atlantic Puffins were drowned in both surface-set and submerged fishing nets around Newfoundland. This form of bycatch has been drastically reduced because commercial salmon and cod fishing are currently limited (Lowther et al. 2002). Increasing oil development in Atlantic Canada may put the species at risk from chronic or accidental oil pollution, but Atlantic Puffins may be less sensitive than some other seabirds (Lowther et al. 2002). Young puffins fledging from their colonies at night are attracted to nearby coastal communities where they risk injury or death, highlighting the importance of mitigating human light pollution along coastlines bordering colonies (Wilhelm et al. 2013). Disruptions in the marine food web and increases in the abundance of predatory gulls have affected breeding and survival, respectively (Gaston et al. 2009), and merit ongoing monitoring.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec Region
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec Region
Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves , sub-region and priority type: Atlantic Region - Newfoundland and Labrador