News From the Seabird Islands - August 11, 2001
Our summer 2001 field season is coming to a close and
by August 15th we will have buttoned up all of our island research stations.
Eastern Egg Rock saw its puffin colony grow by two pairs to a new record
of 37 pairs. The puffin colony on Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge
jumped 21 pairs from last year's total to a new record of 146 pairs.
(A complete description of our field season will be available this autumn
in our annual Egg Rock Update.)
Eighty puffin chicks were successfully 'grubbed' (gently
pulled out of their burrows) on Matinicus Rock this summer by supervisor
Christina Maranto and her very flexible team of interns. This challenging
exercise in contortion and persistence requires interns to wedge themselves
in, under, and between the giant boulders which make up the puffin burrow
habitat. Each chick is weighed, measured, inspected, and banded before
being put back. Hundreds of chicks have been banded over the years and
this greatly helps us keep track of their comings and goings, whether
they stay on Matinicus Rock, or are seen at other islands in Maine.
Media attention on the project has been especially strong
this summer, and nationally syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman recently
visited Eastern Egg Rock aboard the Hardy Boat, from New Harbor, Maine.
Her column 'Eastern
Egg Rock Is For the Birds' appeared this week in a variety of newspapers.
A second article, 'Project
Puffin Restoring Seabirds to the Gulf of Maine' appeared in the July
26th issue of the Christian Science Monitor.
Most of the thousands of pairs of Common, Arctic, and
Roseate Terns that breed on our six managed islands have already started
their long migrations. Terns migrate in family groups, and Arctic Terns
typically fly across the Atlantic Ocean to the coast of Africa, and then
down to Antarctica, a journey of perhaps 8,000 to 10,000 miles! Common
Terns winter off the coast of Brazil and Argentina, while Roseates go
to the coast of Columbia and Venezuela.
News From the Seabird Islands - July 26, 2001
The Christian Science Monitor is featuring Project Puffin
it today's edition. Check out Christian
Science Monitor Article on Project Puffin.
News From the Seabird Islands - July 24, 2001
Julie Kleinhans, Egg Rock Supervisor, reports that there
are now 37 active burrows on the seven acre island, compared to 35 last
year. Andre Breton, supervisor on Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge,
has radioed in that 133 pairs of puffins are currently nesting, and more
are expected. Last year 125 pair of puffins nested there. With ten days
to go before the season ends at Egg Rock and about three weeks until
the Seal Island program ends, these tallies are especially exciting.
All of the "adopted"
puffins have returned this summer on Eastern Egg Rock. These hardy and
outstanding birds were all originally brought down as chicks from Newfoundland
in the years 1977-1980. Several are now 24 years old. Eventually, we
will learn how long puffins live- one of the mysteries that puffins
A particularly long-lived puffin - White 14 -was recaptured
this summer on Matinicus Rock and rebanded for the fourth time. New bands
are necessary, because granite abrades the leg bands- eventually making
the band illegible. This bird is also from the group of puffin chicks
brought down from Newfoundland during the early years of the project,
but is from the 1975 year class, making him 26 years old! This is the
only known survivor from that group, and is currently helping to raise
yet another chick.
On Stratton Island (Saco Bay) a pair of American Oystercatchers
that have nested there for the past six summers have successfully fledged
two chicks for the first time in several years. Perhaps the huge increase
in tern numbers have benefited Oystercatchers. There are Oystercatcher
nests in only two other known locations in Maine, and the Stratton Island
team is thrilled to be seeing the new recruits energetically trying out
Shorebirds are now beginning to migrate south from
their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic, and island biologists are
seeing Whimbrels, Hudsonian Godwits, Red Knots, Dowitchers, Ruddy Turnstones,
and others stopping by to rest and feed while on their long journey to
News From the Seabird Islands - July 4, 2001
year in mid June island biologists conduct a careful count of the number
of tern nests on their islands. Eastern Egg Rock supervisor Julie Kleinhans
has just reported some preliminary findings:
Common Tern nests increased from last year's count of 1,443 to a
Arctic Tern nests increased from 85 pairs to 91.
Roseate Tern nests decreased from 165 in 2000 to a current 143.
However, our Stratton Island field station tells us they found 22
more roseate nests than last year!
There are now twenty-three active puffin burrows on
Eastern Egg Rock, and more are being identified each week. We think that
this year's total number of breeding puffins will be similar to last
year's count of thirty five pairs, or may be higher. Those of you who
have "adopted" Atlantic Puffins may be interested in knowing
that we've so far seen the following individuals: Bi 70, Bi 76, Bi 98,
En 53, En+06, U18, Y11, Y54, Y75, and "K".
A rarely seen Manx Shearwater has been "hanging
around" Eastern Egg Rock for the past few weeks. There is only one
colony of these petite oceangoing birds in North America - in Newfoundland
- as most of their nesting occurs in the British Isles.
Our live video footage continues
to give people everywhere a look into seabird life on the island. The
camera is available online daily. It is currently focused on terns and
will move to cover more of the puffin activity soon.
Passengers aboard our two Maine puffin-watching cruises
have recently seen several large and quite unusual-looking Ocean Sunfish
very near the boat, as well as a few Minke whales. Hardy Boat Tours has
trips from New Harbor that leave every evening at 5:30 p.m. (1-800-2-PUFFIN).
Cap'n Fish's Boats have trips four mornings a week from Boothbay Harbor
News From the Seabird Islands - June 15, 2001
Hundreds of pairs of terns are busy on Eastern Egg Rock
incubating their eggs. All three species - common, arctic, and the Federally-endangered
Roseate tern - are back in good numbers. Puffins are back too, and we've
already identified five veteran birds who some of you may have "adopted".
BI98, Y54, Y75, EN+06 and K. We've also watched as adult puffins have
begun to bring beak loads of fish to two different burrow sitters and
unmistakable sign that their eggs are hatching and the nestlings need
to be fed.
The summer boat trips out to see puffins and terns have
just begun, and cruises will continue till mid-August. For information
call the Hardy Boat in New Harbor at
1-800-2-Puffin or Cap'n Fish at 207-633-3244. Audubon narrators are aboard
On June 6th twenty three members of our project roamed
across much of the state of Maine during our 13th annual staff Birdathon,
hoping to see as many different species as possible. Exciting Highlights
include: Rose Borzik & Debbie Wood sighted three Peregrine Falcon
chicks in a nest along the Precipice trail at Acadia National Park. Scott
Hall camped out in a bog the night before the big day and in spite of
fighting off hordes of biting mosquitoes, he managed to find the rare
Yellow Rail - a first sighting for the Birdathon &
a life bird for Scott. Members of our Stratton Island team heard and
saw a secretive Least Bittern in the small cattail rimmed pond there
in the middle of the island - another first. At the end of a very long
and fun-filled day we tallied 200 species - an astonishing 25 more than
our previous record of 175, set last year.
A census of nesting Razorbill Auks on Matinicus Rock
found 159 active nests, surpassing last year's count of 136. Razorbills
only nest on a few islands in the Gulf of Maine, and Matinicus Rock is
their southern most breeding ground in North America.
For a spectacular view of bird life on busy Eastern
Egg Rock check out our new live streaming video.
Not only can you see terns on their nests as wells as Puffins and other
birds, but you can also hear their distant calls and vocalizations. This
is an unprecedented opportunity to see how birds live on a moment-to-moment,
day-to-day basis and we invite you to join us!
from Past Seasons: