Horned Puffin
(Fratercula corniculata)


Picture of bird
© Ted Krug
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

In North America, Horned Puffins breed almost exclusively in Alaska. They are a rare breeder in Canada (<0.1% of the North American population; Piatt and Kitaysky 2002a), and they winter in the middle of the North Pacific. Data are insufficient to conclusively determine their population status relative to about 1970. However, various observations suggest that the Canadian population’s abundance may have increased over this timeframe. Sightings during the pre-breeding season became increasingly numerous in the 1970s, the first breeding record was documented in 1977, and new breeding records have been obtained since. Still, the breeding population numbers only perhaps 60 individuals. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Imperiled2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 100 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

Between the 1970s and 1990s, changing ocean conditions reduced the availability of preferred prey fish and contributed to population declines of Horned Puffins and other seabirds in Prince William Sound, Alaska (Piatt and Kitaysky 2002a). Other threats affecting the Horned Puffin include: introduced predators within the nesting colonies (primarily rats and raccoons), fishing practices, human disturbance, and marine oil spills (Hipfner 2015). Horned Puffins in Canada might also be affected by changes in prey availability, but effects have not been documented. The small Canadian population nests primarily within protected areas: Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Anne Vallée (Triangle Island) Ecological Reserve.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship