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North Oregon Coast and The Great Puffin Watch

Published 06/24/2019 at 4:53 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

North Oregon Coast and The Great Puffin Watch

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – It’s one of Cannon Beach’s ways of celebrating the Fourth of July holiday: watching the adorable bird, the puffin, bounce around Haystack Rock. Instead of fireworks. (Photo courtesy Ram Pampish).

In fact, the north Oregon coast town is fireworks-free partially because of them. The rock has been an official wildlife refuge for birds for decades.

From July 1 through 4, the town and the Friends of Haystack Rock bring The Great Puffin Watch, happening 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. each of those mornings. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available for the public to view these magnificent birds up close.

Friends of Haystack Rock promotes the preservation and protection of the intertidal life and birds that inhabit the Marine Garden and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Haystack Rock. They do this in cooperation with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program and other partners.

Haystack Rock is home to the largest Tufted Puffin breeding colony in Oregon. While plentiful in other parts of the world, they are extremely rare in this state and along Oregon coast beaches. All the other hangouts for them are farther out at sea and unreachable by human eyes.

In early April puffins show up at the Cannon Beach landmark. Most of the puffins have already found their lifelong partners and are returning to the same protected burrow they used last year to raise their young.

The Tufted Puffins will spend about 16 weeks at the rock. For the first two weeks, the puffins stake out their territory and clean up their burrow. Once their burrow is ready, the female puffin will lay a single, chicken-sized egg, which both the male and female incubate. Incubation usually lasts 41-54 days.

Though usually tucked back inside the burrow, newly hatched puffins appear at the ‘Rock’ beginning in late June through mid to late August. Despite the fact that you may not be able see the pufflings, activity around the rock is hectic and plentiful: it is fun to observe the parent puffins making multiple trips to their burrow with bills full of fish for their young.

At 38 to 59 days after hatching the pufflings will leave their makeshift homes. Under the protection of dark (to escape the ever-watchful, hungry eyes of bald eagles), all the pufflings will leave the safety of the rock and return to the open ocean, where they will spend the winter.

Tufted Puffins struggle with inadvertently ingesting ocean plastic, getting caught and drowning in gill-nets, and protecting their burrows from introduced mammalian predators such as foxes and rats. Since the mid-1990s, Tufted Puffin populations in Oregon and Washington have plummeted more than 95 percent.

Call the Seaside Aquarium for more information on the event: 503-738-6211.

See a video of the puffins on Haystack Rock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6izPeaNV-w

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Photos below of puffins, Seaside Aquarium






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