Haystack Rock, a Paradise for Seabirds

May 28, 2021 Birds, My Solo Trip, The most beautiful places in North America

Haystack is a large 235 feet rock home to many species of seabirds. It is located near the town of Cannon Beach in Oregon. It is immersed in the ocean, but depending on the tides, it can be reached from the beach through a rocky area.

It is a monolith. That is, it is a single piece of stone. Its shape is striking from afar, and it was named Haystack for its shape. Next to it are some smaller rocks called needles, perhaps because of the quote, “looking for a needle in a haystack”.

The “Haystack” is full of life, and the variety and quantity of species living there are fantastic. It is a magical place; the more you explore it, the more you find it. In another post, I will talk about what I saw in the sea, but today I will only talk about birds.
I saw many species that were new to me.

This area is where the western gull lives

What first caught my attention was how they organized themselves on the rock. On the left wall, which is more vertical and steeper, the gulls live and make their nests, and on the other side, live the common murre in the areas without vegetation, and the tufted puffin, on the part of the rock that is covered with grass.

This is where the Common Murres live
Tufted puffins prefer the grassy area to excavate their burrows

Now, I’m going to tell you what I learned about them:

Common Murre 

(Uria aalge) they are amazing birds. They look like penguins from a distance; they are black and white and can stand upright. They live in large colonies on the rocks, but common murres can fly unlike penguins.

Common Murre live in big colonies
The Common Murres can fly

They are great at fishing underwater and use their wings for swimming. Their nests are exposed on the rocks.

Tufted puffin

(Fratercula cirrhata) They have a beautiful orange beak, which has stripes of other colors in the breeding season. They are more adapted to dive and swim than to fly, although they can do so. Their short wings do not allow them to glide, and they must constantly beat them to stay in the air.

They live only in the North Pacific region of North America and nest on rocks or rocky islands without trees but covered with grass. Their nests are deep burrows on the ground. They fish underwater, swimming among schools of small fish.

The western gull

(Larus occidentalis) It’s a very large bird, measuring 22 to 27 inches in total length, and spans 51 to 57 inches. It is distributed from Canada to Mexico and lives exclusively by the sea.


I found the Numenius phaeopus on the beach. This is a migratory bird, and every year it travels thousands of miles from the arctic tundra where it nests to the coasts of South America.

Its curved beak extracts the mollusks that hide in the wet sand.

Harlequin duck

This is one of the most beautiful birds I have seen (Histrionicus histrionicus, Harlequin Duck) with wonderful coloring. These ducks live exclusively on the North Coast of the United States and Canada, like extreme conditions.

They seek the seas with the most turbulent waters, near cliffs and rocks, which leads to accidents. X-rays have detected that many adults have suffered fractures, but generally, they do not prevent survival.

It is lovely to see them swimming and diving in the middle of the rocks where the waves crash violently.

The bald eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus, a bold Eagle, although it does not live on the rock, is an unwanted visitor. When it shows up, everyone gets scared.

One of the most incredible experiences I had there was witnessing the attack of a bald eagle on the great rock twice.

The western gulls circle the eagle to chase it away

When the Eagle approaches to steal the chicks, the gulls and the guillemots fly out and make a great noise. Puffins hide underground in their nests, as they are not as skilled in flight.

Common Murre leaving the rock and their nests exposed to the eagle attack

The Common Murre quickly move away as they are small and cannot face the Eagle, but their nests are exposed.

The gulls also leave their nests to chase after the intruder
They try to scare it away

Fortunately, due to their large size, the western seagulls go on the attack. It is impressive how they surround the Eagle, go up and down with it, and do not allow it to get close.

The chase lasted about five minutes, during which they took turns intercepting the Eagle.

The Eagle finally came out literally, with its claws empty.


4 responses to “Haystack Rock, a Paradise for Seabirds”

  1. I am Sophie’s mother, Susana.
    It is such a privilege to read your blog and see your amazing photos. Please sign me up to get your postings. Thank you for your beautiful work!

    • Thanks Susana, welcome to my site and for subscribing to my blog.It was great to meet Sophie, and I am really grateful that she gave me the opportunity to stay with her and to learn about that fantastic place.

  2. Lovely narrative Victoria. We have been to Cannon Beach but haven’t seen the grand variety of birds you did. We will have to mark our calendars for May and plan to spend several hours walking up and down with our cameras. Thank you for sharing your trip with us!

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