Tufted Puffin Tufted Puffin
Tufted Puffin

Scientific Classification

Common Name
tufted puffin
Genus Species
Fratercula cirrhata

Fast Facts

The tufted puffin has glossy black feathers on its body, a white face, a yellow and orange bill, and long yellow tufts of feathers behind each eye. The males tend to grow slightly larger than females.
The adults may reach lengths of 38 cm (15 in.). They are the largest of all the puffin species.
520 to 1000 g (18.4 to 35.3 oz)
These birds feed primarily on fish, but may also prey on squid, octopus, crabs, jellyfish and even zooplankton.
The incubation period is around 41 days and both parents spend time on the nest.
Clutch Size
In late May, these colonial birds will return to their nests on the side of cliffs and the females lay one egg.  
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 to 5 years
Life Span
Tufted puffins may live over 20 years
These birds can be found in Japan, eastern Russia, the Korea Peninsula and the western coasts of Canada and the United States.
These birds are mostly pelagic during the winter, but will build their nests on inland cliffs and mountain peaks. They can often be seen in marine, intertidal areas along rocky coasts.
The global population is believed to exceed 3,500,000 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The population is suspected to be in decline due to invasive predators, incidental by-catch, oil pollution, and climate change.
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

Puffins belong to a group of birds called Alcids. These birds occupy a similar ecological niche to penguins but only live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Puffins are colonial nesters. During the breeding season, their bills become intensely colored.

Puffins may dive deeper than 24 m (80 ft.) to catch fish. Their bills have specialized serrations that help to hold fish. One puffin was seen holding 62 fish in its bill at one time.

Puffins are powerful flyers, beating their wings 300-400 times a minute to achieve speeds up to 64 kph (40 mph).

Ecology and Conservation

Tufted puffins are sensitive to disturbance during breeding, and human intrusions associated with research and recreational activities may pose a considerable threat.
Predation by introduced species has had severe impacts in certain parts of the species’ range.

Incidental capture in fisheries likely played a major role in driving past decline and may continue to threaten the species in regions where pelagic drift-net fisheries still operate (e.g. Japanese and Russian waters).

The tufted puffin remains one of the most frequently caught birds, and concern over impacts on the species has been raised in both Russia and Japan.

Climate change poses an ongoing and future threat to the species due to high sensitivity to changes in sea surface temperature (SST).

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

This species is also at risk from oil spills. The Exxon Valdez spill (1989) is thought to have caused the mortality of 13,000 individuals.


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.

BirdLife International 2018. Fratercula cirrhata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22694934A132582357. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22694934A132582357.en. Downloaded on 18 November 2019.