Greater Vancouver, Lower Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, Hope, Lytton, Whistler, Squamish, Powell River, Howe Sound
By VAGAbond
I was just down at Lighthouse Park in Point Roberts and took a quick look for birds on the water. As I was getting out of my vehicle three chunky birds flying fast went by. My first thought was Oyster Catchers but no, not Oyster Catchers. They had a very visible white mark on the front of their heads. I suspect they were Tufted Puffins although I didn't observe the yellowish tuft nor the large orange bill, perhaps because they were not close. All the other bird possibilities such as the Rhinoceros Auklet are not all black. My observation is not good enough to to report as a sighting but I thought folks would like to know of the possibility.
As an addendum, here's a Tufted Puffin in flight. On a sunny day, very easy to ID.


They breed at Haystack Rock in northern Oregon. Also at Protection Island in Washington. If you want to obtain photos of them, the Oregon location is the better one. Access to Protection Island is forbidden and one must view from some distance from the island. However, at Haystack Rock, at a low tide about half the rock (300' + high) is on dry sand. The Tufted Puffins breed in burrows at the top 1/3 of the rock - where it's grassy. Black Oystercatchers, Pigeon Guillemots, Brandt's Cormorants, Rhinoceros Auklets, Western Gulls, Common Murre, etc. also breed on this rock

They are poor flyers, not ablle to make quick corrections in direction. Hence, when they fly towards their particular burrows, they must line it up perfectly. If they are a little off in their direction, they turn away, circle and try again.
By VAGAbond
Comparing the photos of the Rhinoceros and Tufted Puffins posted, what I saw was certainly Rhinoceros Puffins. I have seen them on the outer coast but I have made many trips to Point Roberts and never seen them there. You never stop learning. Thanks for the comprehensive replies.

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