The Tufted Puffin, Fratercula cirrhata, is a member of the Auk family which is fairly common in the North Pacific area. It is one of three Puffin species, and is also said to be close to the Rhinosaurus Auklet. They breed in large colonies where they nest in burrows dug into loose soil. Tufted refers to yellow tufts that both sexes have during the breeding period.
The Razorbill, Alca torda, is one of the larger members of the Auk family, with a distinctive large blunt bill. It is the only member of the Alca genus. It breeds in the northern coasts of North America, Europe and parts of Russia and winter further south at sea. The species seems to be faring well and Birdlife International lists it as Least Concern.
Razorbill, Alca torda
Razorbill, Alca torda
The birds in these images were from the Island of Westray in the Orkney Islands. On the day of my visit there was a high wind which was lifting birds to the top of the cliffs where they could be viewed at eye level.
The Atlantic Puffin, Fratercula arctica, is a favorite bird of many people, even those who aren’t particularly interested in birds. There is something about the huge colorful beak and the squat little body that makes it irresistible to us.
This bird nests along north Atlantic coasts from Northern Europe through Iceland to Eastern North America. It often nests with other members of the Auk family,although they have worked out a system of sharing the sea cliffs. For example in Orkney, the Black Guillemot nests at the lowest level, with Razorbill and Common Murre on the middle cliff ledges. The Atlantic Puffin are usually near the top where they burrow into the sediment to lay their eggs.
The Razorbill, Alca torda, is distinguished from other members of the Auk family by its distinctive bill. They breed in areas of the Northern Atlantic. These images are from birds found on the Orkney Islands.
The last time I was in the Orkney Islands, I found that one of the world’s largest Arctic Tern colonies was deserted due to the failure of the local fish stocks that was their food supply. Unfortunately the above National Geographic video describes a similar story.