Not clowning around

How the iconic tufted puffin sends us vital ocean signals

Group of tufted puffins on a grassy cliff near open burrows
Tufted puffins on Aiktak Island colony, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy: Ian Shive.
Group of tufted puffins on the water
Incoming! A tufted puffin flies in to land in a group of tufted puffins floating in the nearshore area around Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Credit: Robin Corcoran/USFWS.
Profile of a tufted puffin
Tufted puffin with some handsome summer breeding plumage outside of a burrow near Kodiak Island. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS.
Tufted puffin near an open burrow
Tufted puffin at a burrow entrance. Burrows can be up to 7 feet long, and puffins use the claws and webbed feet to dig and then line their nest with grass, seaweed, or feathers. The female lays a single egg, which both parents tend during incubation and after the chick hatches. Photo: Robin Corcoran/USFWS.
Tufted puffin with several fish in its beak crosswise
Tufted puffin with a beak full of sand lance for a chick near Kodiak Island, Alaska. Credit: Robin Corcoran/USFWS.
tufted puffin in flight with a fish in its beak
Seafood delivery: this tufted puffin is on its way back from the ocean to a burrow on land with a few small fish for its chick. Credit: Robin Corcoran/USFWS.
Tufted puffin standing near a burrow with fish in its beak
Using cameras to photograph fish deliveries to burrows is one way of diet sampling. Another involves laying a screen across the burrow entrance to intercept the delivery. Photo from: Arthur Kettle/USFWS
Bottles of diet samples lined up on a table with a field notebook
Seabird diet samples collected on Buldir Island, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: McKenzie Mudge/USFWS;
Tufted puffin on the water
Sentinel of the sea: a tufted puffin swims at the surface of the North Pacific Ocean near Kodiak Island. Credit: Robin Corcoran/USFWS.
Tufted puffin on a cliff with orange feet and claws showing.
A tufted puffin at a colony in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island. Note the claws on their toes, useful for digging burrows that may go seven feet deep! Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS.
Extreme closeup of a tufted puffin facing the camera.
Well hello there. This tufted puffin might be able to give us new clues about what its ocean life is like. Stay tuned for more! Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS.



Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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