Skip to main content

Seabirds

Did you know?

Fratercula cirrhata/corniculata

We have two kinds of puffins! Tufted puffins have the classic tuft of hair on the back of their heads, while you can spot the curvy black “horn” of feathers over a horned puffin’s eyes during summer. You can also find murres – another kind of seabird.

NOTE: Our seabirds are temporarily off exhibit while we repair recent snow damage.

Discover Seabirds

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Horned puffins live in coastal Japan, Russia, British Columbia and Alaska. Tufted puffins live from Alaska to California and northern Asia; murres on the Pacific and Atlantic. Find them all at Rocky Shores.
Rocky Shores

Meet our seabirds

Horned puffin
Tufted puffin
Common murre
Eating
(and predators!)
Puffins dive to find saltwater fish, squid and crustaceans, holding their breath for up to two minutes and carrying around 10 fish in their beak at a time.
They use their raspy tongue to hold the fish against a spiny palate. Puffins are hunted by sharks, Arctic foxes and large birds.
Just one egg
(but two doting parents)
Tufted puffins nest in burrows, horned puffins in rocky crevices. Females lay one egg per year, which both parents take turns incubating.
After the chick has hatched it stays in the nest while mom and dad take turns bringing food.
Drinking sea water
and wrestling intruders.
With waterproof feathers and the ability to drink sea water, puffins can live on the open ocean for long periods. They gather in big colonies to breed.
They defend their nests by spreading their wings, stomping their feet and sometimes wrestling the intruder.

Protecting seabirds

Don't take my dinner.

THE THREAT: Puffins are not a threatened species, but some are declining as they face threats of oil spills, ocean pollution and overfishing of the small fish that make up their diet.

TAKE ACTION: Protect all sea animals by speaking out against off-shore oil drilling, choosing sustainable seafood and reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Marine Stories

Counting shoreline trash

It was a sunny Saturday in Tacoma – perfect for the beach. But as Zach Hawn and Kailee Bynum picked their way across Owen Beach with five Zoo volunteers, they weren’t just there for the weather. They were there to count and clean up trash, joining dozens of walkers, kayakers and even divers in the … Continued

Read More
A Tidal Surge of Support

As a young boy watches, face pressed to the glass wall, a flood of bubbly white water gushes through the Tidal Surge habitat. As water washes over them, green anemones wave and pink sea stars cling to the rocks. The bubbles subside and the boy stares, enthralled – even before he’s set foot inside the … Continued

Read More
Red wolf pups meet the vet

PUPDATE! – NAME THE PUPS Help choose names for our eight adorable red wolf pups. Take the survey HERE.   When Dr. Karen Wolf picks up eight newborn red wolf pups one by one, it’s more than just a routine – though adorable – new pup exam. It’s a victory. “American red wolves are critically … Continued

Read More
Who's nearby?
Love our puffins? Then find our penguins! They live in a completely different part of the world – and a different part of the Zoo, over by Budgies and Camels.