One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An auk (seabird) of northern and Arctic waters which nests in holes, with a large head and a massive brightly coloured triangular bill.
Genera Fratercula and Lunda, family Alcidae: three species, in particular the (Atlantic) puffin (F. arctica)
- ‘Do not let it run free on coastal islands because terns, eider ducks, puffins, and storm petrels are ground nesters.’
- ‘It's been estimated that a million birds nest here, including puffins, razorbills, common and Brünnich's guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes.’
- ‘The large offshore rock behind the eastern headland is The Mouls, which is a breeding site for puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.’
- ‘Other island nesting birds, such as puffins and petrels, also were hit hard, but none as badly as the Aleutian Canada goose.’
- ‘The abundance of gulls, terns, skuas, guillemots and puffins has long been a prime tourist attraction, as well as of global wildlife significance.’
- ‘A network of tracks lead to places where waders and wildfowl can be seen in their thousands, where buzzards ‘sky dance’ and where puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes jostle for space.’
- ‘Our provincial bird, the puffin, nests here in staggering numbers.’
- ‘I was expecting to hear waves, wind, drops of water, a few puffins chirping away, perhaps even some crashing sounds as ice falls into the sea.’
- ‘Scotland has seen significant rises in populations of gannets, common gulls and puffins, but other species, such as the arctic tern, are in steep decline.’
- ‘Various kittiwakes, puffins, cormorants and gulls are common birds found here.’
- ‘Some flightless birds, such as living penguins, puffins, and rails, and the extinct auks and phororhacoids, are classified in the Neognathae along with most flying birds.’
- ‘Like other puffins, this species has a large, laterally compressed bill.’
- ‘In spring and summer these become home to thousands of sea birds like guillemots, razorbills, puffins, fulmars and kittiwakes.’
- ‘It reared some 175m above the water, its crevices packed with noisy gannets, puffins, guillemots and gulls.’
- ‘One would imagine this place to be a paradise of alcids of all types, guillemots, dovekies, puffins, razorbills, murres, and murrelets all splashing around in their black and white finery.’
- ‘In coastal areas, for example, puffins, rock doves, fulmars and guillemots are most favoured items of diet.’
- ‘They can also see puffins, ospreys, ptarmigans, gannets, and a springtime explosion of breeding birds on the coastal cliffs.’
- ‘And rather than go hungry, the birds are preying on other seabirds like puffins and kittiwakes.’
- ‘We had seen guillemots, gannets, razorbills, puffins and cormorants by the time we reached the first of the four shipwrecks we would dive over this weekend.’
- ‘Along thousands of miles of coastline, you will see colonies of seabirds clustered in cliffs - gannets, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.’
Middle English (denoting the Manx shearwater): apparently from puff + -ing, with reference to the Manx shearwater's fat nestlings. The later use is a confusion, by association of nesting habits and habitat.
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