Puffins are very similar to the Atlantic Puffin of the Atlantic Coast, but are
found along the Pacific Coast, primarily around Alaska and the west coast of
Canada. They are also larger than their close relative in the Atlantic,
and have different colors on their bills. Horned Puffins nest on rocky
islands on the coastline of Alaska and the Aleutians, but in winter may range
widely through the North Pacific. The Tufted Puffin also shares much of
the same habitat as the Horned Puffin, but with a good view, the two species are
generally easy to differentiate. The photo on the right shows an
adult Horned Puffin with a beakful of fish, a common sight when Puffins are
raising their (single) chick and foraging for food to bring back to the nest.
Habitat: Breeds on rocky islands, using crevices on
rocky cliffs or burrows for nesting. In summer during the breeding season,
they are primarily found near the coastline and their breeding grounds, but in
winter, they may be found far out in the open Pacific Ocean.
Diet: Fish makes up a majority of the diet, with
capelin and sand lance particularly preferred. While the young are fed a
diet of almost entirely fish, the adults will also feed on squid, crustaceans,
and marine worms.
Behavior: During the summer breeding months, they are
typically found nesting in colonies, often in conjunction with other Alcids.
Food is acquired by swimming underwater and capturing fish and other prey with
Nesting: Horned Puffins typically nest in
burrows that are between 1 and 3 feet deep, although they will also often use
crevices in cliff faces, or in protected areas among rocky boulders.
Nesting colonies are almost exlusively found on offshore, rocky islands.
Song: Horned Puffins adults at sea are generally quiet.
Birds on breeding colonies often make low groans.
Migration: After breeding in a fairly narrow range in
Alaska, birds disperse over a fairly large area of the North Atlantic, often
being found very far offshore in the winter months.
Interactive eBird Map:
Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Horned Puffin sightings
Conservation Status: The species is still widespread
and relatively common in Alaska. Local declines occur when introduced
predators such as rats or foxes are introduced on their offshore breeding
colonies, but populations are generally stable.
Cornell University's "All About Birds -
Photo Information: August 8th, 2010 - Fox Island,
Ressurection Bay, Alaska - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Horned Puffin photos.