Audublog

Toughing it out with the Tufted Puffin

May 14th, 2013 · by Garrison Frost

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In case you haven’t noticed, the migration of seabirds is often wildly different from other kinds of birds. But, like their land-based counterparts, seabird do move around quite a bit this time of year – sometimes for breeding, sometimes in search of food. A case in point is the Tufted Puffin. While a lot of people like to think of puffins as cute (seeming perfectly built for one of those Facebook memes with words reading “I Can Haz Seabird,” the Tufted Puffin actually has a reputation for being quite tough. It breeds over a wide range and can handle wildly different climates with relative ease. During the non-breeding season, the Tufted Puffin ranges far and wide over the northern Pacific Ocean, from the waters of Japan to California, from the icy waters of Alaska to the subtropics off Baja. In the spring, in a migration that is very much unlike what one would see from a land bird, the Tufted Puffin begins settling on one of several breeding sites up and down the Western Coast of North America. Here in California, we have breeding sites in Southern California, on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, and the far north coast. Breeding sites continue to occur up through the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Alaska and Russia’s Chukchi Peninsula. This all started happening earlier in the spring, but some of the birds may still be settling into their northern breeding territories. Tufted puffins are a species of special concern in California, the southern periphery of their breeding range. They are declining at all colonies monitored in the West Coast states with the exception of the Farallon Islands off California. They feed on rockfish, squid and anchovies.

Categories: Audubon Alaska · Audubon California · Birding · Pacific Flyway · spring migration

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