The word 'comical' springs to mind when describing this handsome bird. A dumpy, large-headed auk, in summer Puffin Bird has a huge parrotlike bill that is deep but narrow, patterned with vertical bands of yellow, blue and red. Puffin Bird shows a large, pale grey face and cheek with a broad black collar around the throat. In winter the bill sheds its outer layer, so adults look smaller-billed and duller at this season. Young birds (which leave the nest alone, and head out to sea for 4-5 years!) show a much smaller bill.
Puffin Bird is a true seabird, only ever visiting land and inshore waters during the breeding season and staying well offshore in the Atlantic for the rest of the year. It nests in large colonies, mainly around the Atlantic coasts, with some colonies in the English Channel and on North Sea coasts, and favours small islets, rocky islands, and either steep or gentle grassy cliffs where it can excavate nest burrows in the soil. It will exploit burrows ready-made by rabbits or Manx Shearwaters, and further north in its range it is found in rockier cliff habitat, nesting in cavities in cliffs or scree, especially where frost prevents excavation.
Puffin Bird is not particularly vocal, and usually at sea and therefore out of earshot outside the breeding season. However, on its breeding grounds it gives some curious and endearing vocalizations that warrant its inclusion here. Typically calling from its nest burrow, it gives a low nasal growl, rising on the first syllable, descending on the second, and followed by three or four guffawing notes that descend in pitch and tail off, to sound like "owrrr aarrrr-hwa hwa hwa hwa" or "whorrr-aaarrr wah-wah wah wah", the first part of the call lasting 2-2.5 seconds, the whole call lasting about 4.5 seconds.