Tufted Puffin

Tufted Puffin

Scientific Classification

Common Name
tufted puffin
Genus Species
Fratercula cirrhata

Fast Facts

In adult breeding plumage, the tufted puffin has glossy black feathers on its body, a white face, a yellow and orange vertically compressed bill, and long yellow tufts of feathers behind each eye.
Male: Males tend to grow slightly larger than females.
This is the largest of the puffins, reaching lengths of 38 cm (15 in.)
No data
Feeds mostly on small fishes, but diet includes squids, octopuses, crabs, jellyfish and zooplankton
Approximately 41 days; both parents will incubate the egg
Clutch Size: In late May, these colonial birds will return to their burrow nests on the side of cliffs where 1 creamy white egg is laid.
Fledging Duration: Both parents feed the charcoal gray chick pieces of fish until the fledgling is ready to leave the nest for open ocean. This commonly occurs after 43-51 days.
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 3–5 years
Life Span
20 or more years
In the Northern Pacific, including from the central California coastline throughout the Pacific Northwest and across to the coasts of Asia and Japan
Mostly pelagic during the winter, but nests on cliffs and steep slopes with rocks or ground soft enough to burrow in
Global: Estimated at 3,000,000
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Puffins are members of the Alcidae Family (called alcids). The alcids are the Northern hemisphere's ecological counterpart to the penguins. However, unlike penguins, alcids are typically powerful flyers.
  2. Puffins are colonial nesters. During the breeding season, their bills become intensely colored.
  3. Puffins may dive deeper than 24 m (80 ft) to catch fish. Their bills have specialized sharp hooks that help to hold fish. One puffin was seen holding 62 fish in its bill at one time.
  4. Puffins are powerful flyers, beating their wings 300-400 times a minute to achieve speeds up to 64 kph (40 mph).

Ecology and Conservation

Puffins and other seabirds are vulnerable to the effects of El Niño events. 

Oil spills also pose a threat to seabird colonies.


Harrison, P. Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1983.

Harrison, P. Seabirds of the World: A Photographic Guide. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press. 1996.

Herron Baird, P. "Optimal Foraging and Intraspecific Competition in the Tufted Puffin". The Condor. 93: 503-515. 1991.

Scott, S.L. (Editor). Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 2nd Ed. Washington, D.C. National Geographic Society. 1987.

Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/Infocenter/infocenter.html. 1998.

National Wildlife Federation: enature.com/fieldguide

Project Puffin. Audubon society. projectpuffin.org

Stirling, K. "Fratercula cirrhata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/ Fratercula_ cirrhata.html. 2001.