Puffins are chunky birds with large bills. They shed the colourful outer parts of their bills after the mating season, leaving a smaller and duller beak. Their short wings are adapted for flying under water. In the air, they beat their wings rapidly (up to 100 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over the ocean's surface.

Unlike many animals, puffins form long-term pair bonds. The female lays a single egg, and both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick. The incubating parent holds the egg against their brood path with their wings. The chicks fledge at night. After fledging, the chicks spend the first few years of their lives at sea, returning to breed after 3 - 6 years.The puffins are distinct in their ability to hold several (sometimes over a dozen) small fishes at a time, crosswise in their bill. This allows them to take longer foraging trips, since they can come back with more energy for their chick than a bird that can only carry one fish at a time.

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