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Holiday Weekend a Chance to Catch Puffins on N. Oregon Coast's Haystack Rock

Published 06/29/23 at 5:31 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Holiday Weekend a Chance to Catch Puffins on N. Oregon Coast's Haystack Rock

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Instead of watching things that blow up in the air you may consider checking out adorable things that fly through the air. The holiday weekend brings the Great Puffin Watch to the north Oregon coast burgh of Cannon Beach, where fireworks aren't allowed but the beautiful little tufted puffin puts on its own kind of show for the public. (Photos courtesy Friends of Haystack Rock)

Friends of Haystack Rock called it “one of the best aerial displays and not for just one day but for almost three months.”

From July 1 through 4, Friends of Haystack Rock will be at the great sea stack – a basalt rock star on the Oregon coast, really. There, they'll help you spot not only those graceful creatures but others.

“Home to many different nesting seabirds, including the iconic tufted puffin, you can spot over 10 different species flying around and nesting on Haystack Rock,” said spokesman Tiffany Boothe.

The Great Puffin Watch takes place on those four days from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. right in front of the Oregon icon. You'll find multiple scopes by which to peer through, showcasing many of the different bird species that nest on or around Haystack Rock. Staff from the group will be on hand in answering any questions along with showing you the special scopes used for spotting them.

Currently, tufted puffins are rearing their young up on the rock, one of the few places on the Oregon coast they build their nests. They mate for life in the early spring, and then begin their return to Haystack Rock (as well as other areas like Bandon, Coos Bay or Oceanside). Hatched sometime in the summer, the young usually leave before August.

“From May to August, tufted puffins nest on islands at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach and Face Rock in Bandon. Remember to bring binoculars or a spotting scope to see them,” said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “A great time to check out the coast for offshore pelagic seabirds is after a large storm.”

Boothe said they spend about half the year on the open ocean. When they return to a nesting spot like Cannon Beach, they'll take up the same burrows, raising a single puffin.

“The puffins make multiple daily trips to capture prey for their growing chick,” she said. “As ocean temperatures rise puffins must fly further and dive deeper to capture food. This is not sustainable for the Haystack Rock puffins.”

The Tufted Puffin decline along the Oregon coast has been dramatic since 1979. The estimated population in 1979 was 6,600. The same count was last taken in 2021 and only 553 birds were recorded. The Haystack Rock population has declined from 400 in 1979 to 74 in 2022.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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