Puffins: Comedians of the Sky

Puffins: Comedians of the Sky

I’m sure Puffins don’t think of themselves as funny, but it is difficult to watch them when in breeding plumage and not imagine that they are wearing a clown suit and make up. ...


For most of the year puffins like this Horned Puffin and their close relative the Tufted Puffin live at sea (making them Pelagic birds) but they do come to land to breed, making that the best time to photograph them if you can find one of their island rookeries.


Puffins, like other Alcids, use their wings to fly underwater so they look a little awkward when they take off and land. The only thing that makes them look sillier is when they are carrying fish in their mouth to feed their young.


Unfortunately for photographers puffins like this Horned Puffin prefer to fly directly into their nesting burrows when they have food so the most common opportunity to photograph them with fish is when they are flying around looking for a good time to land at their burrow. Despite their funny looks they are fast flyers so it requires some patience and practice to capture images of them in flight.

The good news is that they seem to be slow to decide to land when they have fish and often circle several times providing lots of chances to get the image. As always with flight shots blue sky makes for the quickest Auto-focus but ocean backgrounds like the one below provide an attractive alternative.