Tufted PuffinPhotos, Pictures, Prints

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Fratercula cirrhata

Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) are a species of puffin that breeds on coastal islands and headlands from Forrester Island, Alaska to Cape Lisburne on the Chukchi Sea.

This bird is mostly black with a white facial patch. As is typical of other puffin species, it boasts a very thick bill which is mostly red with some yellow and occasionally green markings. Their most distinctive feature and namesake are the yellow tufts that appear annually on birds of both sexes as the summer reproductive season approaches. Their feet become bright red and their face also becomes bright white in the summer. During the feeding season, the tufts molt off and the plumage, beak and legs lose much of their luster.

Puffins are easily seen, but difficult to photograph. They are very skittish to get close to, even with a 600mm or longer telephoto lens. The best bet for photographing puffins is from land when they are nesting. It is possible to observe them without disturbing them and then isolating the birds against a clean ‘”blurred” out background. The Pribilof Islands, particularly St George, and Round Island near Dillingham, Alaska are great locations to photograph puffins.

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