Tufted Puffin

Fratercula cirrhata

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The Tufted Puffin is a favorite seabird among both residents and visitors to the Oregon Coast. This beautiful bird achieves its most remarkable coloration during the summer months when breeding adults begin to vie for each other’s attention. The feathers on their faces will turn bright white and they will grow very elegant-looking tufts of yellow feathers behind each eye. Their parrotlike bill becomes more vibrant-looking, adding a green bill casque and rosette.

During the winter months, however, the puffin can have a dramatically different appearance. The bright colors will be replaced with dark and dusky feathers. The tufts for which the bird is named will disappear completely.

Along the Oregon Coast, the Tufted Puffin can be found in large breeding colonies usually high on steep rock-face or on isolated islands. Their specific choice of roosting areas makes them almost invulnerable to terrestrial predators. Predatory birds, such as Bald Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawks. Peregrine Falcons and Great Horned Owls, can still hunt the puffin from the air.

The puffin eats primarily fish and squid, which it can carry in quantity inside its large bill.

Range and Habitat

Tufted Puffins prefer to stay in the more northern latitudes of the Pacific coast area, although they are occasionally seen as far south as the Channel Islands off of California. They are particularly common in British Columbia and Alaska.

Conservation Status

Common, but protected in many areas due to over-harvesting for its beautiful plumage.