Newfoundland Puffins and Root Cellars - Adorable East Coast Birds and Little Hobbit Houses!
Puffins are adorable little birds that frequent the shores of NL from May to September every year!
Welcome to the world of Atlantic Canada puffins in Newfoundland
Newfoundland Puffins and Root Cellars - 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, Canada 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.
Newfoundland Puffins types
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!
Facts about Atlantic Puffins
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! I kinda want one!
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.
One great spot to view these little coastal birds that we call Puffins is on the Avalon Peninsula!
Are you on the lookout for the ideal spot to witness these charming birds? Look no further than the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve on the southern shore of the island, just an hour's drive from St. John's on the stunning Avalon Peninsula. This reserve is a haven for puffins and other seabirds, making it the perfect spot to experience the puffin heritage.
Newfoundland Puffin Tours
To make the most of your visit, consider booking a coastal cruise with professional and knowledgeable guides. As you approach the reserve by boat, the vast expanse of the ocean stretching before you will leave you in awe. This pristine habitat provides an ideal setting for the small, colorful birds, and soon you'll spot them huddled on the rocky cliffs. Those are the adorable puffins you've been longing to see!
When the boat comes to a stop, you'll hear the distinctive bird call of the puffins and catch a whiff of the salty breeze. Booking an excursion with one of the tour operators in the area is the only way to view Puffin Island, so make sure you don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Speaking to some fellow tourists who had visited the reserve, they described it as truly amazing, and it's something you won't want to miss. I have not have had the privilege to see these cuties this way but it is definitely on my bucket list.
When to go sightseeing Puffins
If you're planning a trip to see puffins, remember that the best time to spot them is during their breeding season, from mid-May to mid-September. After that, they head out to sea, and your chances of catching a glimpse of them may dwindle. So, make sure to plan your visit accordingly to maximize your chances of seeing these delightful birds up close. 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!
What are you waiting for? Head to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and embark on a puffin-filled adventure! With their cute antics, unique behaviours like beak-rubbing, and impressive diving skills, puffins are sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Don't forget to pack your binoculars, as getting a closer look at these elusive birds is a must. Happy puffin-spotting!
Another spectacular viewing location for puffins is on the Bonavista Peninsula
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 Cape 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!
Puffin Island in Elliston Newfoundland
The second viewing spot is in the town of Elliston approximately 20 minutes from Bonavista, 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
What are Newfoundland Root Cellars?
Nestled on the rugged eastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador lies a hidden gem known as Elliston. This quaint and picturesque town may be small in size, but it packs a powerful punch as the "Root Cellar Capital of the World."
Elliston's claim to fame is rooted in its rich cultural heritage and connection to the land. The town's early settlers relied on root cellars to preserve their vegetables, fruit and meat during the harsh and unforgiving winters, and as a result, these underground structures became an integral part of Elliston's identity. Years ago every family in outport Newfoundland had one of these in their backyard and it was a staple in every household.
Today, visitors can still witness the legacy of these historic root cellars as they explore the town's Root Cellar Trail. The town has taken great pride into restore and reviving these little pieces of history! I was completely obsessed with these little hobbit houses as they were popping up all over the place and on ever other corner! The community has created a festival that revolves around the history of the town. Its called the Roots, Rants and Roars Festival and it celebrates the root cellar history, the towns connection to Newfoundland culinary cuisine and the storytelling of our people of course.
And The Root Cellar Capital of the World is... Elliston Newfoundland!
With over 130 root cellars still standing in and around the town, Elliston offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. From the simple yet ingenious construction of these structures to the practical purpose they served, visitors can experience firsthand the ingenuity and resilience of Elliston's early inhabitants.
Puffins and Root Cellars are a Photographers Dream
So, if you're looking to add some adorable and fascinating wildlife encounters to your Newfoundland adventure or to visit a part of true Newfoundland history, be sure to keep an eye out for puffins and root cellars along the coast. These little birds are sure to steal your heart with their cute looks and unique behaviours and the cellars will fascinate you... I promise! What are you waiting for? Visit Newfoundland and check out StaycationNL for all your local travel tips!
Newfoundland Puffins and Root Cellars
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Great info on Puffins. Has to be my fav bird on the Atlantic. Out my way. I would have to say the Loon.
EH Canada Marketing Group Thanks! I love those little birds too! We have a loons at my family cabin on the pond! I love listening to them as well!
Thank you so much for writing this article, Lori, I have made notes as I am really keen on puffins. Last time I was in NL I had missed the season, and your article is really helpful in providing options for my next visit. I would like to check out Bonavista Lighthouse too. I also enjoyed reading about the Root Cellar Trail, alas, in the days before Costco. Did you know that the largest Costco in Canada is in St. John's? Perhaps influenced by all those little root cellars there is now one big one for the region at 182,000 sq. ft.!
Really good article Lori!
Kim Kenyon Thanks so much! I love visiting the puffins and that was the first time I ever saw them ( the video I posted a couple weeks ago) They are the cutest little birdies!!
Great article, Lori! I had no idea Puffins could fly up to 80km.
I really enjoyed your puffins and root cellars article, Lori.
Janel Coe YES!! They are very fast little birdies!! They fly really close to the water too!
Great info! Thank you so much for sharing!
Rene Coatta Your welcome! Hopefully I will get to see these cuties again this year!!
Great article Lori! I have spent a lot of time around puffins on the ocean and I love the little guys skittering across the water!