Tufted Puffin Observations, April-May 2021

Contributor: Diane B

As some of you know, the Peregrine falcons (PEFA) have been nesting on top of Face Rock.  While they started early, it appears that they lost one clutch and then started again on April 14, 2021 and so have been incubating about 29 days.  Cornell Birds of the World says that PEFA incubates 33-35 days so we are close to seeing hatching if they are successful.  The PEFA nest is located in a cleft under a large boulder on the right or north side of Face Rock located under the Common Murre nesting area.  This boulder is in an area of rocky boulders that Tufted Puffins (TUPU) have used as their summer nesting burrows.  On 5/3/21, I could see the PEFA in the nest and as I was watching through my scope, I saw TUPU, sometimes one and then there were two, taking flights low right over the PEFA nest boulder and the PEFA on the nest looking up each time they flew by.  Then finally, one literally flew into a burrow just above where the PEFA nest was.  I initially started to wonder why and then saw the PEFA mate fly into the TUPU burrow and stick its head into this burrow.  I could see the tail and hip area of the bird and it was moving like it was using a foot or beak to grab on to a bird.  I was very reassured when the bird came out without any TUPU or bloody beak or claws.  But then it went immediately up to another burrow area and stuck its head in it.  Then it flew up to the top of a boulder just above these two burrows and perched for a bit before taking off again.  I have attached a photo with the PEFA circled in red, TUPU burrow in orange and the upper burrow that the PEFA also explored in pink. The next photo shows a TUPU standing on a rock that is just to the right of the TUPU burrow.

On 5/8/21, I saw TUPU flying over the PEFA  nest and again one dove into the burrow.  A few minutes later another bird went in the same burrow and another came out, stood for just a moment and then took off.  This happened several times and so I was finally able to get a photo of one of the TUPU in the burrow area.  In addition, I saw a TUPU do the same sort of “dive into the burrow” in the burrow areas left of the PEFA nest area.  So this behavior might explain why it is so hard to see TUPU on Face Rock now.  I have seen at least four TUPU but there could easily be more.  

The third photo shows the circled red areas in which I have seen TUPU on Face Rock this year.  I fully expect that we may see TUPU in the rocky boulder area to the left of the lower boulders (line of boulders in which the PEFA is nesting).  In earlier years, this whole large rocky area was home to lots of TUPU burrows and we called them the “Apartment Houses”.  The last two photos are of the TUPU burrows in what we call the “Penthouse” as it is the highest TUPU burrow on Face Rock. 

Two Tufted Puffins
Tufted Puffin below Common Murre nesting area
Observed TUPU this year on Face Rock
Circles: red = PEFA; orange = TUPU burrow; pink = PEFA explored burrow

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