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2021 Peregrine Falcon and Tufted Puffin Interactions on Face Rock by Diane Bilderback, Shoreline Education for Awareness (SEA) Member
As some know, Peregrine Falcons have been nesting on top of Face Rock, Bandon. They started early and lost one clutch, then started again on April 14, 2021. Cornell Birds of the World says that Peregrine Falcons incubate 33-35 days. The falcons nested in a cleft under a large boulder on the right, or north side, of Face Rock located under the Common Murre nesting area. This boulder is in an area of rocky boulders that Tufted Puffins have used as summer nesting burrows. On May 3, 2021, falcons were viewed in the nest and while watching through my scope, I saw Tufted Puffins. Sometimes one and then there were two puffins, taking flights low right over the falcon nest boulder. The Peregrines would look up each time the Tufted Puffins flew by. Finally, a puffin literally flew into a burrow just above where the Peregrine nest was located. Initially, I started to wonder why and then saw the falcon mate fly up to the puffin burrow then stick its head inside the burrow. I could see the tail and hip area of the bird moving like it was using a foot or beak to grab onto a bird. Fortunately, when the falcon came out without a Tufted Puffin or bloody beak or claws, it obviously didn’t take a puffin. But then it went immediately up to another burrow area and stuck its head in it, then flew up to the top of a boulder just above these two burrows, and perched for a bit before taking off again.
In Photo #1, the Peregrine Falcon is circled in red, Tufted Puffin burrow in orange, and the upper burrow the falcon explored in pink.
Photo #2 shows a Tufted Puffin standing on a rock just to the right of the puffin burrow, which is below the Common Murre nesting area.
On May 8, Tufted Puffins flew over the Peregrine Falcon nest and again one dove into the burrow. A few minutes later another bird went in the same burrow and another came out, stood for just a moment and then took off. This happened several times allowing me to finally get a photo of one of the puffins in the burrow area. In addition, a puffin did the same sort of “dive into the burrow” in the burrow areas left of the falcon nest area. This behavior might explain why it is so hard to see Tufted Puffins on Face Rock the rest of the season. At least four Tufted Puffins were spotted during Spring but, there could easily be more.
Photo #3 shows the circled red areas in which puffins were seen on Face Rock in May. The Tufted Puffins boulder nesting area has, in earlier years, been home to lots of puffin burrows and referred to as the “Apartment Houses”.
Photos #4 and #5 are the Tufted Puffin burrows referred to as the “Penthouse” as it is the highest puffin burrow on Face Rock.
If you are interested in local wildlife and you’d like to learn more about SEA, its volunteer opportunities and projects or other fun educational activities such as the Nurdle Patrol, or SEA’s upcoming educational seminar series, go to www.sea-edu.org or call the SEA phone 541-313-6751.