You may think of puffins as exotic rainforest birds that can only be seen on the other side of the globe, but there are actually puffins here in Oregon!
Tufted Puffins are 15 inch long mostly black water birds. They have large beaks which are helpful when catching fish. Unlike lots of birds (mostly songbirds) both male and female Puffins look alike, with the same colors and features and in winter plumage, the non-breeding adults have dark grey feathers around their head as opposed to their usual white heads.
Occasionally you can find them at the coast of Oregon, Washington and California (all through the pacific northwest). In Summer they breed in colonies on islands, near elevated grassy areas or on cliffs, but in the winter they swim offshore in the ocean.
Tufted Puffins are very active with their colonies during the daytime, but you may just find them sitting on rocks looking out at the sunset. They are good fliers but they have to start out by fast walking and then they can take flight. When they look for fish, they may swim around, bobbing their head under water looking for fish and since the fish are so small, you’ll see them carrying a lot of fish in their mouth which they take back to their families.
Nesting and Nestlings:
They breed in the summer and make nests in burrows in the ground. Females usually lay one egg which is incubated by both parents for a month in a half. Once the nestling hatches, it stays with its parents for a little less than 2 months, afterwards they become fledglings and leave the nest. Little by little the population is going south, and isn’t building back up, because these birds only have 1 egg. Through the last 30 years, the population has gone down, it used to be 30,000 and now it’s 4,000. Read: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bsewell/tufted_puffin_in_peril_nrdc_pe.html
to find out more about these possibly endangered species.
Almost their entire diet is small fish but they will sometimes eat squid or crustaceans.