Horned Puffin

Common Name: Horned Puffin
Scientific Name: Fratercula corniculata


About 1.2 million Horned Puffins breed in the North Pacific, almost exclusively in Siberia and Alaska. Unlike Tufted Puffins, Horned Puffins find cozy crevices in rocky cliffs to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Horned Puffins lay only one plain white egg. Like all others members of the Alcidae family, both parents incubate the egg and raise the growing chick. Each parent shares mealtime duties by carrying up to 15 fish at once back to the chick. Both the adult and chicks like feast on small fish, squid, and sometimes krill. It can take Horned Puffin chicks as long as fifty days in the nest to grow big enough to go to sea!

Identification Tips

  • Length: 11.5 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Immature similar to adult basic but bill is smaller and darker
  • Medium to large alcid that dives for food from water surface
  • Very large bill
  • Black crown, nape, throat, and upperparts
  • White breast, belly and undertail coverts
  • Red legs and feet
  • Pelagic bird only coming ashore to breed
  • Inhabits open ocean habitats and coasts from Alaska south (rarely) to California

Adult Alternate

  • Extremely colorful bill-yellow at base and red at tip
  • White, triangular face patch
  • Hornlike projection from top of eye
  • Thin, dark line from eye to nape

Adult Basic

  • Duller bill lacks yelow plate at base
  • Gray, triangular face patch
  • Similar Species

The Horned Puffin is most similar to the Tufted Puffin. In alternate plumage, the Horned Puffin lacks yellow tufts on the face and has white, not black, underparts. In winter, the gray face and white underparts of the Horned Puffin can separate them. Atlantic Puffin does not overlap in range and has a different bill pattern.