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Horned Puffin

Fratercula corniculata

Did you know?

  • Horned puffins are a part of the Alcidae family, which they share with murres, auklets, and other bird species.
  • They get their name from the hornlike "knobs" above their eyes.
  • They are also known as the “clowns of the sea.”
  • They live on the shorelines of northwestern United States, northwestern Canada, eastern Russia, and nearby regions.
  • A female will lay one egg per clutch.


Unlike penguins, puffins can fly! Taking flight is a bit of a trick, however, and they may use a running start or a dive from the cliffs in order to become airborne. Puffins are excellent divers, at times reaching depths of around 250 feet. They also have beaks that are specialized for eating fish. The roofs of their beaks have backward-facing barbs that keep fish from sliding. They have a rough tongue, great for holding onto their next meal.

Young and Family

Horned puffins are social birds that nest and feed in large groups. During breeding season, the hornlike knobs above their eyes act as mating signals and their beaks get brighter. A male and a female will rub their beaks together during a courting. They form monogamous pairs. A couple will nest on the side of a cliff, lining their crevice with grass, debris, and whatever is nearby and available. A female will lay one egg per clutch, often once a year.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


The Horned Puffin is widespread and abundant.


Northwestern United States and Canada, to Russia


Open ocean, rocky shorelines

We care about horned puffins

We support horned puffins in the Penguin and Puffin Coast at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world.

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Find this animal in The Wild


The Wild

You’ll find penguins, puffins, grizzly bears, gorillas, chimpanzees, to name a few. And while visiting, you can take a ride on the Conservation Carousel or hop aboard and ride the Zooline Railroad. There are also gift shops and eateries you can enjoy.

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