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Tufted Puffin Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A stocky, football-sized seabird with a very short neck, large head, broad wings, enormous bill (especially during the breeding season) that is laterally flattened, short tail, rather short legs, and large, webbed feet.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Horned Grebe, smaller than a Common Murre.

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 14.2-15.8 in (36-40 cm)
      • Weight: 18.3-35.3 oz (520-1000 g)

Regional Differences

Tufted Puffins nest in colonies on steep rocky islands, usually in grassy turf on slopes, sometimes in crevices among stones. They typically dig burrows into the soil for nesting. During the breeding season, Tufted Puffins forage relatively near the nest site, though some may commute over 60 miles to productive foraging grounds over the continental shelf. After nesting, adults disperse to sea, with most of the population wintering over very deep water far out in the central North Pacific. Juveniles also winter there, and because they do not breed until their third year, may remain on the open ocean for two more years.