All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Learning from Project Puffin

Seabird biologists from China, Mexico, and Peru visited Eastern Egg Rock in Muscongus Bay this summer to learn from the success of Project Puffin—now 33 years old.
Stephen W. Kress began an experiment that has brought back puffins and terns to this and other Maine islands.

He said his work was based on restoring the nesting habitat and controlling predators, especially the large gulls that had taken over since other seabirds were hunted out 100 years earlier. His team relocated puffin chicks from thriving colonies in Newfoundland to specially constructed burrows here and fed them by hand. They used decoys and recorded calls to lure puffins and terns to the nesting grounds. And they staffed the island each breeding season to ensure that the large gulls, which do not like to nest around people, would not return.

Eastern Egg Rock now has 70 pairs of breeding puffins. There are also good numbers of Leach’s storm-petrels, black guillemots and laughing gulls, as well as healthy colonies of common and arctic terns and the largest roseate tern colony in the Gulf of Maine. [Link (reg. req.)]

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