Portland has its swifts; Capistrano has its swallows; Cannon Beach has...puffins! Indeed, the first of the season's tufted puffins arrived on Haystock Rock April 2, kicking off an annual flurry of avian activity. After eight months of floating and diving on the open seas of the Pacific, the adorably mohawked (or eyebrowed?) creatures flock to the Oregon Coast to lay eggs and raise their chicks.
Generally, tufted puffins nest on remote, rocky islands, where they burrow their nests in grassy areas. Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach is a welcome alternative, providing one of the Northwest’s most accessible locations to observe puffins nesting in their natural environment. From a distance, puffins are easily recognizable. Better divers than fliers, they flap their wings rapidly and continuously in flight, in a desperate attempt keep their stocky, football-sized bodies airborne. Under water, however, they "fly" more gracefully, flapping their wings beneath the surface in swift pursuit of fish.
The puffins will be most visible and active at Haystack Rock from April through early July. By late August, the chicks will be ready to return to open seas.