Thursday, August 26, 2010

Birds of St Paul: Horned Puffin

Last but not least, the real super stars of Saint Paul were the puffin: flying footballs that hurl through the air beating their wings at incredible speeds (300-400 beats per minute). Impressive in the air but they excel at flying under water.

At first glance the Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) looks much like it's Atlantic cousin (Fratercula arctica) with it's soft white face, candy corn beak and bright orange feet. Puffin are often referred to as the clowns of the sea because of their bright beaks and feet. A group of puffin is known as a "circus" or "improbability" of puffin.

On closer inspection the Horned Puffin is larger and lacks the Atlantic's distinctive band of blue on it's bill. It's named for the flashy black horn that extends upward from it's eye resembling a single eyelash. Rather than nest in burrows like the Atlantic Puffin, Horned Puffin prefer ready made rock crevices.

Atlantic Puffin
Height: 12.5 in
Weight: 13 oz
WingSpan: 21 in

Horned Puffin
Height: 15 in
Weight: 17 - 22.9 oz
Wing Span: 23 in

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