Horned Puffin

Fratercula corniculata

This is the last regularly breeding species to arrive on the island in most years as individuals are not found around the islands until about May 20th in most years. After arrival, they become regular sights quickly with typical spring numbers present within a few days of the first sighting most years. Breeding estimates for the Pribilofs include 10,000-15,000 pairs on St. George Island, 1,000-3,000 pairs on St. Paul Island, and a small number of pairs on Otter and Walrus Islands, though these numbers are often not present in full until the end of June or July when the nesting period begins. The chicks of this species do not hatch until August in most years and thus this species is present in full numbers later than almost all other nesting species, typically not declining in numbers until mid-September or later. They can continue to be found regularly into late October, both on the cliffs in some years or on the surrounding waters. This species winters on the ocean near the Pribilofs and may be seen sporadically at that time depending on the local ice pack and weather conditions.

This species, along with Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata), is known for returning to its chicks with many fish and small squid in its beak. This behavior is best seen during August for both species when the highest numbers of chicks are being attended to.

Photo by Ryan P. O’Donnell
Photo by Sulli Gibson