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Puffins: Newfoundlands Adorable Coastal Birds

Updated: Mar 3

 Newfoundland's Adorable Coastal Birds are not only for bird watchers!

If you're visiting Newfoundland and Labrador, and you're a nature lover, then you definitely don't want to miss the chance to spot puffins! These cute little birds, measuring about 6-8 inches in height, can be found along the coast of Newfoundland, as well as in Ireland and other parts of the world. However, in this article, I'm going to focus on where you can find them in Newfoundland.

There are four different breeds of puffins, including the Atlantic Puffin, horned puffin, tufted puffin, and rhinoceros auklet. In Newfoundland, the Atlantic Puffin is the most commonly seen breed, and it also happens to be the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador. These birds are known for their unique behaviors, including mating for life and showing affection by rubbing their beaks together – a heartwarming sight to witness if you're lucky enough to spot it!

One interesting fact about Atlantic Puffins is that they shed their beaks in the winter, leaving them grey, but in the spring, their beaks grow back bright orange, which makes for a stunning sight for photographers. While the exact reason for this phenomenon is not known, one theory is that it helps camouflage the puffins against the wooded areas, protecting them from predators.

Atlantic Puffins typically live to be about 20 years old and make their homes in burrows they dig into grassy cliffs. Inside the burrow, they create a cozy nest using feathers, and the female lays a single egg. Both parents take turns protecting the egg, and after approximately 45 days, a "puffling" – the term for a baby puffin – hatches. How adorable!

In addition to their cute appearance, Atlantic Puffins are also impressive hunters. They are known for their speed, capable of flying up to 80 km/h, and can be seen fluttering close to the water while hunting for food. They bring back their daily catch to their family in the burrow, making them excellent providers.

If you're hoping to spot Atlantic Puffins during your visit to Newfoundland, be sure to bring along a pair of binoculars, as they are often seen from a distance. While they may occasionally come close, it's not guaranteed, so it's best to be prepared. However, if you're lucky, like we were on our visit to Puffin Island near Elliston, you might just catch them feeling friendly and get an up-close encounter with these precious birds!

So, if you're looking to add some adorable and fascinating wildlife encounters to your Newfoundland adventure, be sure to keep an eye out for puffins along the coast. These little birds are sure to steal your heart with their cute looks and unique behaviours.

Welcome to the world of puffins in Newfoundland

If you're looking for the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of these adorable birds, look no further than the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve on the southern shore of the island. Located about an hour from St. John's on the beautiful Avalon Peninsula, this reserve is a haven for puffins and other seabirds.

One of the best ways to experience the puffin heritage is by booking a coastal cruise with professional and knowledgeable guides. As you approach the reserve by boat, you'll be struck by the vast expanse of the ocean stretching before you. This pristine habitat is perfect for these small, colorful birds. Soon, you'll notice dark shapes huddled on the rocky cliffs - those are the puffins! Just as adorable as you've imagined, these charming birds will capture your heart.

As the boat comes to a stop, you'll hear the distinctive bird call of the puffins and catch a whiff of the salty breeze. Puffin Island can only be viewed by boat, so booking an excursion with one of the tour operators in the area is your best bet for an unforgettable experience. I spoke to some fellow tourists who had visited the reserve, and they described it as truly amazing. The sights, sounds, and smells of puffin island are something you won't want to miss, and I've already added it to my bucket list of things to do on the southern shore.

If you're planning a trip to see puffins, keep in mind that the best time to spot them is from mid-May to mid-September, during their breeding season. After that, they head out to sea, so you may not be as lucky. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly to maximize your chances of seeing these delightful birds up close.

So, why wait? Head to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and embark on a puffin-filled adventure! With their cute antics, unique behaviors like beak-rubbing, and impressive diving skills, puffins are sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Don't forget your binoculars, as getting a closer look at these elusive birds is a must. Happy puffin-spotting

The cute puffin in Elliston
The Atlantic Puffin- Unknown capture not my photo!

A real puffin!!

If you find yourself in the Bonavista area of Newfoundland, be sure to check out these two perfect spots to see puffins! The first spot is near the Lighthouse in Bonavista itself. Just follow the road signs and community directions, and you'll be rewarded with a sight of the island near the lighthouse, dotted with these sweet little birds. The scenery in this area is simply stunning, making it a perfect place for a leisurely stroll. If you're lucky, you might even spot an iceberg if you're there at the right time of year!

The second viewing spot is in the town of Elliston, which is also worth a visit. To get there, just follow the road signs and drive to the end of the community, where locals refer to as puffin island. There's a parking area at the end, and it's easy to find. From there, take a leisurely five-minute walk along the well-marked path to the point where most of the puffins can be seen. The ground can be a little uneven, so be sure to wear your hiking flip flops, and consider making a donation at the beginning of the trail to contribute to the upkeep of the area.

Once you reach the viewing point, you'll be in for a treat! During our visit, we saw hundreds of these adorable little birds up close for the first time. They were even smaller than we had imagined, but incredibly friendly and photogenic. It was a truly amazing experience! We were not alone in our excitement, as we met fellow tourists, including a friendly couple from Ohio, who were also exploring the area. We had a great chat about Newfoundland and Labrador, and even captured the moment on a video with my iPhone!

The puffins in this area are a major draw for tourists, and it's easy to see why. Watching these precious birds waddling around, braving the sometimes windy weather, was a heartwarming experience. So, if you're in the Bonavista area, make sure to visit these puffin hotspots and create your own cherished memories of these charming birds. Don't forget your warm jacket and camera, as you might end up spending quite some time captivated by these little wonders of nature

Puffin island in Elliston to view puffins
The entry to Puffin Island in Elliston

The puffins at Puffin Island Elliston! That’s the wind you hear!! Lol

The most famous house near puffin Island
Do you see the puffin in the window

Cute Puffin Chairs in Elliston
Super Puffin Chairs

Exploring other Attractions in Elliston

If you're visiting Elliston, you simply can't miss the chance to explore the fascinating root cellars that dot the community. These unique structures were used in the past to store root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, before the advent of refrigerators in outport Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, they stand as a proud display of the town's heritage and have become a popular tourist attraction.

As you wander through the town, you'll come across these hobbit-like houses popping up around every corner. In fact, Elliston boasts an impressive 135 root cellars, randomly located in various places throughout the town, making it the self-proclaimed Root Cellar Capital of the world! I was personally captivated by these intriguing structures and couldn't help but marvel at their history and significance.

What's even more impressive is that the community of Elliston has taken great care to renovate some of these root cellars, ensuring they are safe for visitors to explore. It's truly a testament to the town's pride in its heritage and commitment to preserving these unique structures for future generations to appreciate.

The root cellar capital of the world
A Root Cellar in Elliston

In addition to the opportunity to explore these fascinating root cellars, Elliston also hosts an annual event called Roots, Rants, and Roars, which takes place in September and is not to be missed. This fun-filled weekend features local musical talent, incredible food prepared by renowned chefs, and exciting hikes. It's a celebration of the town's culture, cuisine, and community spirit, and a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

So, while you're in the area, be sure to take the time to visit Elliston's renowned root cellars and experience the unique charm of this quaint town. You won't be disappointed by the rich history, warm hospitality, and unforgettable experiences that await you in this Root Cellar Capital of the world! And if you happen to be in Elliston during the Roots, Rants, and Roars event, you're in for a truly special treat that will leave you with lasting memories of this incredible destination

If you're planning to stay overnight in Elliston or on the Bonavista Peninsula, you'll be spoiled for choice with several charming accommodations to choose from. Be sure to check out the StaycationNL website for options and availability, as anywhere on the Bonavista Peninsula is easily accessible from Elliston.

While you're in Elliston, make sure to indulge in some local eats at The Puffin Cafe and Nanny's Kitchen. These cozy eateries offer delicious meals that are sure to satisfy your taste buds with authentic Newfoundland flavors. And don't forget to visit the Puffin Souvenir Craft Shop near Puffin Island for all your souvenir needs. This quaint, old-fashioned store features handmade local items that make for perfect mementos of your trip.

In addition to its charming accommodations and local eateries, Elliston has a wealth of attractions to explore. Take a stroll along The Klondike Trail, immerse yourself in the history of Newfoundland's sealers at the Sealers Interpretation Center, or marvel at the unique rock formations at the mini Dungeon. There's something for everyone in this little town, and you'll be sure to make lasting memories during your visit.

And if you're a fan of these adorable seabirds, be sure to check out the popular Facebook group called Newfoundland Puffin Reports. It's a must-visit for any serious puffin enthusiast, providing updates and information about the best spots to see these cute creatures in action during your trip to Newfoundland.

So, when you're booking your accommodations for your Newfoundland adventure, be sure to consider the unique charm and attractions of Elliston and the Bonavista Peninsula. With its cozy accommodations, local eateries, quaint craft shops, and fascinating attractions, Elliston is sure to make your stay a memorable one

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