All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Maine's Only Tufted Puffin

Thanks to Project Puffin, Atlantic Puffin colonies have rebounded nicely on certain remote islands off Maine. Puffins historically nested on Eastern Egg Rock, Western Egg Rock, Large Green Island and Seal Island, but by the early 1900s their population had been reduced to a single breeding pair on Matinicus Rock. They were hunted nearly to extinction for food and feathers.

Though the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) is the only species native to the Atlantic coast, John J. Audubon once collected a Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) in Maineā€”a bird normally found on the Pacific Coast.
The specimen from which I drew the figure of this singular looking bird, was procured at the mouth of the Kennebec river, in Maine. It was shot by a fisherman gunner, while standing on some floating ice, in the winter of 1831-32. No other individual was seen. I could not obtain any information respecting its habits; but as the bird was in tolerable order, I hope that my figures of it will prove not unacceptable. It was a male, and appeared to be adult. My friend, the Prince of MUSIGNANO, mentions this species as being an inhabitant of the seas between North America and Kamtschatka, being, he adds, often found on the western coasts of the United States in winter. [Link]
According to this 2002 account (PDF), "no other vagrant records exist across North America" for this bird.

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