Horned Puffin - Fratercula corniculata
The horned puffin is a small, pigeon-sized bird with black uppersides and a white chest and undersides. It has a white face and cheeks with a small black "horn" above its eyes and a thin, dark line that runs from its eyes to the nape of its neck. It has a large, triangular orange bill with a red tip. It has bright orange legs and webbed feet with claws on the ends of them.
In the winter, the horned puffin's bill is smaller, its feathers are grayer, and its face is darker. Males and females look similar, but the male's bill is bigger and brighter than the female's bill and the male is a little larger. Because of its colorful bill, the horned puffin is sometimes called the sea parrot.
The horned puffin breeds from northern Alaska to British Columbia in Canada. It winters in the ocean off the coast from Alaska to Washington. Occasionally, stragglers make their way down as far south as southern California.
The horned puffin uses its large bill to catch fish and marine invertebrates. It can dive up to depths of 80 feet to catch its prey. The horned puffin can carry more than one fish in its mouth at a time.
In the summer, puffins come in from the open ocean to mate. Puffins form pairs that mate for life. A pair usually builds a nest in a crevice in a cliff or in a hole between boulders. The female lays only one egg a year.
Both parents incubate the egg. They place the egg under a wing and then lean their body against the egg. The egg hatches in about 40 days and both parents feed and protect the chick. When the chick fledges in 40 days, the parents leave the chick and return to the open ocean. The chick then goes out to the open ocean waters and remains there for at least two years. Puffins breed in large colonies with the tufted puffin.
The puffin can fly, but it is a better swimmer. In order to get airborne, the puffin must run on the surface of the water for a long distance. The horned puffin also dives off cliffs to take flight.