Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata)



Puffins often associate in groups, called rafts. Rafts are important for social behaviour, including finding a mate and breeding. Puffins are usually silent, but when grouped together are very noisy, especially as their calls resemble a chainsaw!


The horned puffin is so named for the large fleshy projection above each eye and its "puffed up" posture. Its underside and face are white, but they are divided by a wide black collar. The rest of its body is black except for the feet, which are bright orange. The most noticeable feature of this species is its large, bright yellow and red bill. At 36 cm in length, males and females are similar in size and appearance - although males may be slightly heavier.


These birds are uncommon along most of the British Columbian coast, but they are more abundant in the extreme north, particularly along the southern coast of the Alaskan Peninsula.


Rock crevices on cliffs and steep slopes of the Pacific northwest are the preferred nesting location for these social birds. A single, creamy white egg is laid and cared for by both parents for up to 41 days. The young puffin fledges at 40 days and swims off alone. Horned puffin chicks (pufflings) feed on only two kinds of fishes, capelins and sand lances, while adult puffins also feed on hake, herring and small invertebrates such as shrimp.