Never considered myself to be a 'birder'. But after looking at their pics in the guide books, we eagerly sought Puffins during our visit to Alaska. During our cruise of the Kenai Fjords, we saw the endearingly beautiful, plump chicks by the thousands. Have to say, they are the cutest birds ever.
Puffins like the open ocean and spend most of the time on the water, far away from land. Each spring, they come to the cliffs in the Kenai Peninsula to lay eggs and rear the young chicks. Sometime in the early Fall, they leave en masse for the open Pacific.
Rather than take flight, this one just tried to swim away from our boat. This is the “tufted puffin” characterized by the blonde tuft sweeping off its crown, much like a tiny pony tail. The orange beak definitely makes them very stylish!
Apparently, they have heavy bones making them clumsy fliers. They do manage short bursts trying to get away from whales (and boats). But they are excellent divers and can go as deep at 40 feet to get their fish. They are monogamous and return each spring to the same burrows on the cliffs!
Puffins in the bird Tank at the Sea Life Center. When in Seward, the Sea Life Center is a must visit. They have recreated a cliff like area for the local sea birds along with a large diving area for the birds to dive and fish – and for us to see the puffins underwater. Very nice!
A good look at a puffin! This fella was comforatable around visitors and came quite close. These two are the “horned puffins,” characterized by their white breasts and a black ridge (or horn) extending straight up from the eye!
Out in the ocean, by the majestic Chiswell islands (a protected birding area) a Red-faced Cormorant just caught some fresh fish!
A mallard and its mate at the Sea Life Center. The colorful one in the foreground is the male, while the brownish plain one right above is its mate. I was told they are monogamous (atleast for a season).
Our Alaska Trip: