Puffin

Pic: Mike Weedon

Pic: Mike Weedon

One of the quirky facts that enthusiastic young birdwatchers discover as they devour bird books, is that Puffinus puffinus is the scientific name of the Manx Shearwater, not the Puffin. The latter, also known as the Atlantic Puffin (to distinguish it from the Horned Puffin and Tufted Puffin of the Pacific) goes by the name of Fratercula arctica, which means little brother (or friar or monk) of the arctic.

Puffin derives from Middle English word ‘poffin’ or ‘pophyn’ which was used for nestling shearwaters cured for eating. The name later became associated with other burrow-nesting seabirds which were also harvested for eating, including the Puffin. But, the shearwater kept the name for its scientific name.