Alaska Collection

They are just simply adorable. With their orange bills and webbed feet, puffins are some of the cutest birds on the planet. Besides being arguably the most lovable of the seabirds, puffins are fascinating.

In Kenai Fjords National Park, both tufted puffins and horned puffins arrive each spring to breed in the rookery island. 

  1. Tinier than you think. While their colorful beaks give them a statuesque presence, horned puffins are generally only 15 inches (38 cm) tall, while tufted puffins are a tiny bit taller at 16 inches (44 cm).
  2. At home at sea.  Puffins spend most of their time at sea, months on end in fact. They can surf atop waves for resting to break up life at sea.

A tufted puffin splashes in water

  1. Summer bright. In winter, a puffin's beak is the dull grey of the winter ocean. In spring, both beaks and feet turn an outrageous orange - key for attracting mates.
  2. High flyers. With wings that can (or must) flap 400 times a minute, puffins can cover up to 55 miles (88 km) an hour! Since they are essentially nomadic birds who return to shore only a few months a year, they cover a lot of miles.

A horned puffin swims in a dark blue sea

  1. Super swimmers. With strong webbed feet for rudders, puffins can dive almost 200 feet (60m). As they dive, they use their wings to flap underwater, giving them superb propulsion. Scientists say they're actually better at swimming than flying.
  2. Regulars on the rock. Puffins hang out in coastal colonies in the spring and summer to breed. In Kenai Fjords, there are a number of seasonal colonies where puffins return year after year. Read on for some of the best places to spot them.

A horned puffin rests among mossy rocks

  1. Long haulers. For puffins, finding a mate is a long-term decision. They'll often stick with the same mate for 20 years! That's practically their entire lifespan.

Where to see puffins in Kenai Fjords

Want to see puffins up close and personal? Along the majestic coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park, there are a few key areas known to host seasonal puffin congregations that are part of Kenai Fjords Tours' trajectory.

  • Beehive Island: named for the constantly busy scene as puffins go about their mating here.
  • Chiswell Islands: usually the heaviest concentration of nesting puffins in the park happens here on the edge of the Gulf of Alaska.
  • Caines Head: a small group nests here in a little cove at the south end of the headland.
  • Resurrection Peninsula: just south of the Fox Island spit on the east side of the bay, puffins gather near the Eldorado Narrows.
  • Emerald Cove: this tiny, beautiful cove is a busy spot for puffins.

Source: Kenai Fjords National Park

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