- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Alcidae
The Horned Puffin, a black-and-white seabird with a beautiful orange-and-yellow bill, is a Pacific species reminiscent of the clownlike Atlantic Puffin. Its "horns" are small fleshy spikes that extend above the eyes of breeding adults. Whereas other puffin species dig earthen burrows for their nests, Horned Puffins typically nest on cliffs. They dive 100 feet or more to chase small fish, bringing dozens at a time back to their nest held firmly in the bill. These hardy seabirds spend winters far from shore in the Pacific Ocean.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Finding Horned Puffins takes either luck or travel. The easiest way to see one is to visit their nesting grounds, such as St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands, where hundreds of birding tourists come each year to enjoy them. Lucky observers from California to British Columbia occasionally find them by scanning the Pacific Ocean for many hours during winter.
- Frailecillo Corniculado (Spanish)
- Macareux cornu (French)
- Cool Facts
- A study of the muscle tissue of Pacific seabirds indicates that Horned Puffins forage mostly well out to sea, beyond the continental slope. Researchers were able to determine this by looking at the stable isotopes in their tissue, which revealed what kind of prey they were eating. By comparison, analysis of Common Murres’ and Cassin’s Auklets’ tissue confirmed that they foraged mostly closer to shore, whereas Fork-tailed and Leach’s Storm-Petrels foraged much farther from land, over very deep water.
- The Horned Puffin carries small fish crosswise in its bill and delivers them to its nestlings. One individual was observed carrying 65 fish at once.
- Unlike other puffins, which only nest in burrows, the Horned Puffin sometimes nests in rock crevices and on cliffs.