The Alaskan Horned Puffin 🧡
Although information on population status is very limited, boat based surveys of seabirds at sea in Prince William Sound, Alaska, suggest an overall 79% decline of Horned Puffins from 1972-1998. Considering the large-scale changes in marine food chains & climate which have been observed over the last decade, prey availability is the most likely source of population regulation.
Horned puffins are monomorphic; the male & female exhibit the same plumage coloration. In summer, it has a small, fleshy, dark "horn" above each eye from which it takes its name, & brightly colored orange and red bill. Outer layers of the bright bill are shed in late summer, leaving a smaller, drab colored bill. During the winter the legs & feet fade to a pale fleshy color & the face is a shade of grey and black.
Because of its coloration it was named “sea parrot” & “clown of the sea” by early sailors. Also interesting: puffins are able to catch & secure more than one fish by using spines on their tongues & roofs of their mouths. They can carry up to 80 sand eels back to nest to feed their chick. When they congregate in the winter in large groups, it is called "rafts".
Last week, I was able to go behind the scenes & photograph at the @alaskasealifecenter
💙 It was lovely meeting the team & hearing about their research & stories of animals they recused. The @alaskasealifecenter
operates as a non-profit research institution & public aquarium. It generates & shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding & stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. It is the ONLY facility in Alaska that rescues & rehabilitates marine mammals. They need our help more than ever during the pandemic, so please check out the link in my stories 🤍