The Horned Puffin
A Horned Puffin is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Horned Puffins. We have also put together a list of fun Horned Puffin t-shirts, Horned Puffin bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Horned Puffins
They are similar to the Atlantic Puffin but have a different bill color and a longer fleshly “horn” above their eyes. They are a common sight on islands on the coastline of Alaska in the nesting season. Outside the breeding season, you can find them on the high seas far from the coastline and islands. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Identification
Horned Puffins are beautiful seabirds that look similar to their close relative — the Atlantic Puffins.
Horned Puffins are 8 inches tall with a 23-inch wingspan, and they weigh approximately 18 oz.
Both males and females have the same colored plumage, but males are generally larger in size.
These birds have earned their name due to a fleshy black coloration extending upwards from their
eye that looks like a horn. Horned Puffins have white cheeks and yellow wattles at the bottom of
their bills. They have orange legs and feet. The bills of these birds are significantly larger than
other puffins. During breeding season their bills grow in size and change their color to bright
yellow with dark orange tips. Juvenile Horned Puffins do not undergo this transformation in their
bills during the breeding season, and they also lack the characteristic horns of these birds.
Horned Puffin Color Pattern
These medium puffins have white underparts and black upperparts. They have white faces and a long fleshly horn above their eyes. During summer the bill appears bright yellow with an orange tip. Their eyes are light brown to brownish-gray and have orange-red legs.
Horned Puffin Size
They have large but strong and rounded bills and their heads are rounded. They are typically crow-sized.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 15 in (38 cm)
- Weight: 22.4 oz (635 g)
- Wingspan range: 22-13 in (56-58 cm)
Horned Puffin Behavior
They forage while swimming in the high seas. They rapidly swim through a class of fish, catching them using their bills. The Horned Puffins can fly but tend to spend much of their time in the water since they are excellent swimmers. Even though silent, they utter harsh notes from their perching site.
Horned Puffin Food
During the breeding season, these seabirds survive on a diet that mainly consists of fish. Salmon, Cod,
sand lances, and herrings are the fish commonly consumed by Horned Puffins. These fish are
captured by surface diving, which is a technique that requires these seabirds to dive down
approximately 100 feet to catch prey that is about 50 feet deep in the water. Some fish caught by
them are immediately consumed, while others are taken back to the rest of the colony. Horned
Puffins prefer to hunt during the day. During summers, these birds include several other sources of
food such as small invertebrates, crustaceans, marine worms, quids, and octopuses.
They mostly feed on fish. They prefer sand lance, capelin, smelt, and sticklebacks. The young ones are mostly fed on fish while adults can as well feed on marine worms, crustaceans, and squids.
Horned Puffin Habitat
During the breeding season, Horned Puffins reside in colonies on cliffs, in bluffs of fractured rock, or in
fissures among stones. If there is an adequate supply of food in the vicinity of their habitats they
forage nearby, if not they can travel over 60 miles to suitable foraging grounds. Their wintering
grounds are in the central North Pacific, over deep water.
They thrive in oceans and nest in burrows on sea cliffs. During the summer, they frequent ocean waters that are near the breeding islands. In other seasons they are found far offshore. In winter you can find them in the sea waters south of Washington.
Range and Migration
Horned Puffins are alcids that are widespread in the North Pacific Ocean. They can easily be
spotted on the coasts of Alaska and British Columbia in the breeding season. Another region that
is commonly inhabited by these birds is the Bering Sea Coast of Russia. These birds only leave
their breeding grounds during winter if they freeze over. If this happens, Horned Puffins winter offshore.
Horned Puffin Lifecycle
The females lay one egg and incubation is by both parents which takes place for 38-43 days. The young ones are fed by both parents. They drop fish in the nest or at the entrance. The young leave the nest after 38-44 days. Unable to fly well, they tumble down to the water and then swim out to sea. They have an average lifespan of 20 years in the wild.
Horned Puffin Nesting
Male Horned Puffins begin to court the females as soon as they reach the breeding sites. They
raise and open their bills, jerk their heads, and then let their bills rest on their backs. In
reciprocation, the females lower their heads and rub their bills against the bills of the males. Male
Horned Puffins also nibble at the legs of their partners, and present them with materials for building
their nests. These birds dedicate a week’s time to search for a suitable nest. They generally prefer
rock crevices. Nests are very simple — made only from grasses, twigs, algae, and feathers.
Horned Puffins only lay 1 egg annually which is incubated by both genders. The egg hatches after approximately 41 days of incubation, after which both parents care for the youngling for the next 40
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Horned Puffins
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Horned Puffins are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Horned Puffin T-shirts
If you love the Horned Puffin you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Horned Puffin Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Horned Puffin is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Horned Puffin Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Horned Puffin. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Horned Puffin
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Horned Puffin
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.