From the Seabird Islands - September 23, 2008
at Eastern Egg Rock by Derrick Z. Jackson-Boston Globe
All of the interns and volunteers came off of our seven Maine coast
islands on August 10, as most of the seabirds had already left the islands
to begin their fall migrations. The students and staff of the Seabird
Restoration Program hosted the 24th annual meeting of the Gulf of Maine
Seabird Working Group at the Hog Island Audubon Cente,r at which 75 seabird
biologists from New England attended to share the outcomes of this 35th Project
The second half of the 2008 field season was notable for heavy rain
and a general reduction in the amount of quality fish brought to nestlings.
Terns were affected the most - especially the late nesting pairs, but
the total tern populations on Audubon managed islands remained at record
high numbers, supporting 71% of the Maine population. Puffins, which
live in sheltered burrows, were largely unaffected by the rain and most
pairs successfully fledged their single chick. End of the season tallies
of active puffin burrows demonstrate that puffins nesting on Audubon-managed
islands continue to thrive, with record high numbers of nesting pairs
tallied at Eastern Egg Rock and Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Highlights from the 2008 field season follow.
seabird islands in the Gulf of Maine; * marks the location of Project
Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland
Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge - Puffins were
abundant at Seal Island this year, with a record high count of at least
375 pairs confirmed. This is a 12% increase since the last thorough
search in 2006 that found 336 pairs. Because of the difficulty of identifying
actual nest sites, the actual number of nesting pairs is probably even
higher. The Seal Island team is still in place, focusing now on observing
the fall migration. In addition to an important seabird nesting island,
this refuge is also important for migratory shorebirds and landbirds.
To help solve the mystery of where puffins winter, four ‘geolocators’ were
attached to the leg bands of breeding puffins in late July. The paper-clip
sized devices are able to calculate latitude and longitude and will hopefully
reveal information about where puffins go in the winter. To download
the information, we will need to recapture these birds next summer when
they return to Seal Island. Learning where puffins spend their winter
(likely far at sea) is increasingly important because of prospects for
offshore oil drilling and placement of windmills.
Seal Island was home to Maine’s largest tern colony this year,
with an estimated 1,283 pairs of Common Terns and 1,084 pairs of Arctic
Terns. The total number of terns increased by more than 500 pairs over
2007 as apparently many pairs returned following a major gull predation
event in 2007 that caused much of the colony to disperse. The terns had
the best year of raising chicks in the past five years because of the
abundance of large herring and sand lance early in the nesting season.
This permitted most of the early nesting terns to successfully fledge
their young before food became scarce in late July. The strategy of placing
our interns on the island earlier than usual to deter gull predation
proved very successful. Seal Island NWR is managed cooperatively with
the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
The popular Puffin Cam is still in place, but because of a near lighting
strike, the microphone is no longer working. Although the puffins and
terns have left the island, the camera is now focused on the shoreline
where gulls are the only seabirds remaining. Followers of the Puffin
Cam this time of year may be lucky to spot Harbor and Grey Seals on the
rocks. The puffin cam is sponsored by Barbara’s
Matinicus Rock - Large Sand Lance dominated the food
of puffin and razorbills early in the nesting season and then abruptly
vanished from the seabird diet by mid-July. Large sand lance are unusual
at this island, but are one of the best foods that seabirds can find.
Razorbills benefitted the most from this boon in food because they nest
early and leave the island when the chick is only a few weeks old. Large
Sand Lance comprised 70% of the food delivered to Razorbills, while this
quality fish composed just 26% of the overall diet of puffins which were
forced to bring home lower quality small shrimp in the 2nd half of their
chick rearing period.
A mystery soil burrow was discovered in the center of the island this
summer and its occupant was discovered using a remote infrared camera.
Island staff were elated to discover a Manx Shearwater coming out of
its new burrow. Although it is not known if the pair had an egg or chick,
the burrow is notable as only the second Manx Shearwater burrow confirmed
for Maine. A Red-billed Tropicbird (likely the same one that has visited
the island over the past two years) was observed here on ten days and
at nearby Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge on twenty days. Matinicus
Rock is managed cooperatively with the Maine Coastal Islands National
Eastern Egg Rock - Certainly one of our biggest
events of the summer is that the puffin colony increased to at least
101 nesting pairs. The record large number of 100+ pairs now produce
as many chicks as were brought annually to the island from Newfoundland
to restore the colony. Puffin translocations from Newfoundland ended
in 1986 and all of the recent growth of the colony is likely from
native pairs and immigrants from other Maine islands. Survival of
adult puffins was high this year as evidenced by the fact that all
but one of the puffins in the Adopt-A-Puffin program were resighted
this past summer. To learn more about participating, click on http://www.projectpuffin.org/adoptapuffin.html
Egg Rock puffins fed their young almost entirely on small hake (67%),
but they also obtained some of the large sand lance bonanza (4%) that
fueled Matinicus Rock and Seal Island. Because they nested earlier than
other Maine puffins, most of their young were fledged before fish became
scarce in late July.
Arctic and Roseate Terns increased respectively from 101 and118 pairs
in 2007 to 111 and 129 in 2008. The increase in Roseate Terns is notable
considering a general decline in recent years throughout New England.
Common Tern numbers stayed about the same this year at Egg Rock with
about 1,000 pairs nesting. In contrast, Laughing Gulls increased by 14%
to a record high of 1,952 pairs-an increase from 1,705 pairs in 2007.
Laughing gulls affect terns because they compete for nesting space and
steal food f to feed to their own young. Eastern Egg Rock is owned by
the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and managed by Audubon.
To help frighten predatory Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls away
from critical tern nesting habitat, a robotic scaregull, called ‘Robo-Ranger
I’ was placed near puffin and tern nesting habitat in late
June. Built by students and teachers at Dewitt Middle School in Ithaca,
New York, in collaboration with engineers from Cornell Laboratory of
Ornithology, the six foot tall male mannequin stood up from its box in
a random manner, guided by a computer. It was dressed similar to interns
that actively scare gulls off the island with the idea that gulls would
learn to fear the interns and then generalize this learning to the robot.
Terns and puffins that were nesting nearby became accustomed to the scaregull
and soon accepted it. In contrast, few gulls were observed perching nearby.
Further research next summer will help to better assess the scaregull’s
effectiveness in the ongoing need to reduce gull predation on terns and
puffins. View photos and more about the project at http://www.tsaweb.org/DeWitt-Project;
for a YouTube video, click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gb3vjCCkT8
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge - A total of 437
pairs of Common Terns nested this year, a 38% increase over 2007, and
the second highest number of pairs ever recorded at the island. However,
Great Horned Owls disrupted the nesting season, causing parent terns
to abandon their chicks at night. The owls were captured unharmed on
July 5 and 21st and later released in northern Maine. This gave the terns
a reprieve, but a Peregrine, Merlin, and Cooper’s Hawk also raided
the colony, taking chicks and adults. Despite the predators, the colony
produced about one chick per pair - largely because of the excellent
supply of large herring and sand lance that was readily available from
the Kennebec River. Although 21 species of food were noted, large sand
lance and Atlantic herring made up over half of the food items. Pond
Island NWR is managed cooperatively with the Maine Coastal Islands National
Jenny Island - Jenny Island is less than three acres
in size, but this year provided home to 556 pairs of Common Terns. Although
this is an impressive number, it was a decline of 18% from 2007. Likewise,
the number of Roseate Terns declined from 16 in 2007 to just two this
summer. A mink raided Jenny Island this summer, killing 12 Common Terns
and one Roseate Tern, leading to widespread nocturnal abandonment in
late June. Because food became scarce in early July, both Common Terns
and Laughing Gulls turned to stealing food from terns carrying fish.
A study of this behavior found that Common Terns participated in 93%
of attempted thefts, while Laughing Gulls participated in only 31%. The
percentage of attempts that were successful also increased with prey
item size, as did the average number of chasers. The study found that
although there were many chases, only about 2% of incoming prey was actually
stolen by hungry terns and Laughing Gulls.
Jenny Island is owned by the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
and managed by Audubon.
Outer Green Island - A total of 828 pairs of Common
Tern nested this year, a decrease of 108 pairs from the 2007 census
total of 936. The island is home to the largest tern colony in Casco
Bay. There were no major predatory events from owls or mink which
offers further support to the suitability of the island for supporting
terns. However, this year the terns suffered from a food shortage
that began during the second week of July and continued through the
remainder of the season. This forced the terns to switch from hake,
large sand lance and herring to tiny crustaceans, insects, and low
quality fish. Terns nesting at Outer Green Island are also finding
less suitable nesting habitat as invasive plants such as bindweed
and quack grass now cover much of the best tern habitat. Several
innovative approaches to improving tern nesting habitat were tested
this summer, including the use of corn gluten meal, landscape fabric,
black plastic, native grasses, and fire. Outer Green Island is managed
in cooperation with the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
with special logistic support from the USFWS’ Gulf of Maine
Stratton Island - Common Terns increased by 200 pairs
this year to 1,027 pairs- the largest number in the past five years,
but Roseate Terns declined by 16 % to 64 pairs. State-endangered Least
Terns nested for the fourth consecutive year. A total of 77 pairs nested
this year. Stratton Island is notable for its mixed heronry which this
year supported the following pairs: Snowy Egret - 99 nests, Glossy Ibis
- 85 nests, Little Blue Heron - 6 nests, and Black-crowned Night-Heron
- 17 nests. These were similar or slightly lower than previous years.
The number of Great Egret nests increased from seven nests in 2007 to
25 nests in 2008. The program to control oriental bittersweet was furthered
this year at several locations. Left uncontrolled, bittersweet smothers
prime nesting trees, forcing the herons to nest in marginal habitat or
leave the island.
PROJECT PUFFIN VISITOR CENTER
Project Puffin Visitor Center hosted Swedish wildlife artist Karl Mårtens
this summer who brought 21 original photos for exhibit. All of the original
paintings were auctioned on July 25th, generating $25,000 to benefit
management of puffins and other seabirds at Audubon-managed sanctuaries.
To provide further support for Project Puffin, we are now selling
limited edition lithographs from the show. A lithograph of a puffin and
razorbill are available through Project Puffin Visitor Center’s
on-line store at: http://www.projectpuffin.org/OnlineStore/index.html.
Tickets are also available for a raffle of two framed and matted lithographs.
All of the profit from the sale of art and gifts from the Project
Puffin online store goes directly to further seabird conservation
in Maine. Karl Mårten’s show was sponsored by the American-Scandinavian
Limited edition lithographs of puffin and razorbill by Karl Mårtens
Egg Rock Update
This year’s Egg Rock Update will be mailed in early November,
if you have a change of mailing address or do not receive our annual
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From the Seabird Islands - July 30, 2008
Most of the summer has been unusually foggy, with less rain than usual,
but the past week brought heavy rains associated with tropical storm
Cristobal. Most tern chicks are now large enough to fly and have water-proof
feathers. On some of our islands, later nesting terns have found difficulty
finding ample foods. This, coupled with heavy rains has caused the loss
of many tern chicks. Puffins have found good food supplies throughout
the nesting season and some at Eastern Egg Rock are now ready to fledge.
During this period, the Egg Rock team identified the 99th active puffin
burrow at Egg Rock, marking a new record for the growth of the colony.
This period also marked the end of the Razorbill nesting season, with
most birds now off the nesting islands, heading to sea.
Special Puffin Banding Demo
A live puffin banding demonstration was held at Seal Island National
Wildlife Refuge at 3PM on Friday, August 1st. Matt Kosterman, supervisior
of Seal Island NWR, conducted the banding demonstration live via the
Puffin Cam video stream at http://www.projectpuffin.org.
Matinicus Rock - Six Razorbills were captured near
their nests and fitted with electronic devices called "time
depth recorders (TDR)" to learn how deep razorbills dive and
how far they go from their nesting islands to find a meal. The study
is being conducted by Island Supervisor Katie Kauffman as the central
focus of her Master's degree thesis: Foraging behavior of razorbills
at the southern limit of their range. Katie hopes to see how
deep razorbills dive in pursuit of fish, how long they stay under,
how often they dive, and where they go to find prey. Two of the six
razorbills were recaptured three and four days after being fitted
with the devices, respectively, and the first data findings are revealing
about this little known part of the Razorbill's life. Katie reports
that both birds usually dove 83 to 115 feet deep, stayed under for
as long as two minutes, and dove several times in a row, with just
brief moments on the surface to catch their breath.
Katie’s associate, Kyla Zorro spent a night in a large wooden
observation blind and was thrilled to see about 20 young razorbill
chicks ‘fledge.’ ‘We watched chicks clambering
and stumbling over boulders and rocks as their fathers called to
them,’ says Katie, ‘eventually making their way down
to the cobble beach and into the water. It was awesome!’ A
rare daytime filming of this dramatic event was filmed by Stephen
Kress at Matinicus Rock and is now available on YouTube:
Razorbills have an unusual manner of leaving the safety of their
rocky crevice nests in that 6 week old chicks are escorted and protected
by watchful fathers as they make their way over boulders. In the
You Tube film, the parent and chick Razorbill appear to walk directly
past some snoozing Great Black-backed Gulls. Listen for the father ‘growling’ and
the chick’s whistle-like response.
Eastern Egg Rock - The biggest news from Eastern
Egg Rock is confirmation of the 99th active puffin nesting burrow.
With about two weeks remaining, it’s possible that even more
nests will be found. This is certainly wonderful news in this 35th
anniversary year. Puffin counts are another measure of success. For
example, a July 13 count found 101 puffins on land at Egg Rock.
A single Maine state-endangered Black Tern has laid an egg on the
southwest portion of the island and is being closely watched to see
whether or not it has paired with a male of a different species,
or if it is a lone female. Black Terns typically nest in freshwater
marshes and are rare throughout their range. Several individuals
have shown up on other seabird islands, but this is the first time
an egg has been found on an Audubon-managed Maine island.
Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge - To date,
250 active puffin burrows have been located so far, including 25
new burrow locations. The razorbill attraction project continues
to flourish and ten nests have been discovered so far, a new record.
The Arctic and Common Terns here- the largest colony in the Gulf
of Maine- are having an excellent year and many have already begun
their epic migration to Africa as their first land fall. From there,
many will fly on to circumnavigate Antarctica before returning to
Maine next May.
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge - Two predatory
Great Horned Owls were captured by island Supervisor Adrian Leppold
and taken to a nearby bird rehabilitation clinic. Here they are examined
before release far from Pond Island. One of the recent captured birds
coughed up a pellet with three stainless steel bands previously placed
on tern chicks.
Jenny Island - Island Supervisor Charlie Governali
believes a mink may still be on the island, and several dead tern
chicks have been found recently. The mink has so far killed at least
ten adults, including one Roseate Tern. Likely in response to the
mink, many pairs have abandoned and likely nested elsewhere. Despite
a number of traps set out on the 2 acre island, the mink has eluded
capture. Although the mink has definitely affected the success of
the colony, many Common Tern chicks are successfully fledging and
moving south- likely to their winter home in Argentina.
Stratton Island - Rain generated from tropical
storm Cristobel has reduced productivity of the tern colony. State
endangered Least Terns are nearing the end of their nesting season
and the first of their young are beginning to fly. This is the peak
of shorebird migration, with hundreds of Short-billed Dowitchers,
Ruddy Turnstones and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. The arduous work of
vegetation control has begun, with staff members mapping and then
cutting and removing the bittersweet. Without these controls, bittersweet
would smother heron nesting trees and purple loosestrife would fill
in the fresh water marsh.
Outer Green Island - Black Guillemot chicks are
fledging now- 14 in total at this southernmost Maine colony. Terns
were thriving earlier in the season, but food has become scarce during
the last two weeks. This, combined with rain from tropical strorm
Cristobel, has reduced nesting success for late-nesting Common Terns.
Earlier nesting terns have successfully fledged many young before
the tropical rains came.
PUFFINS IN THE NEWS
Project Puffin was the feature of an article by Derrick Z. Jackson
in the Boston Globe on July 22, 2008. Puffins were in the news:
News From the Seabird Islands - July 1, 2008
Seabird chicks of all species are hatching on the islands just as
Audubon biologists finish their island tern censuses. Rain and heavy
fog made it difficult to work in the colonies earlier in the week,
but sunny skies near the end of the week allowed island interns to
catch up on early season work including tern chick banding, productivity,
and feeding studies. Mink have appeared on two islands and gulls are
beginning to take some eggs and chicks at most of the islands - giving
cause for our island stewards to work harder to minimize losses.
Outer Green - The 2008 census found 828 Common
Tern nests on Outer Green Island- down 153 pairs since last year.
So far, no Roseate Terns are nesting here this year. Common Tern
chick growth and provisioning studies have begun this week as tern
chicks are now hatching. Audubon biologists continued vegetation
manipulation and monitoring as late June showers increased plant
growth. A vegetation collection is in progress to catalog all of
the plants on the island. A study looking at the role of corn gluten
meal as a way of managing tern habitat is in progress.
Stratton Island - Four species of terns were hatching
this week on Stratton Island. The 2008 census found: 951 pairs of
Common Terns, 70 pairs of Least Terns, 64 pairs of Roseate Tern,
and 9 pairs of Arctic Terns. Common Terns increased by nearly 200
pairs, but Roseate Terns declined by 16 pairs. Common terns are now
at peak hatch and are very aggressive toward island interns- diving
and ‘pooping’ are deemed very positive signs as it means
the adults are fully committed to raising their young.
Jenny Island - Audubon biologists have found evidence
of a mink on Jenny Island. Mink traps have been set around the colony
in an attempt to capture the mink and remove it from the island.
The 2008 census found 556 Common Tern pairs - 124 fewer than last
year. Likewise, Roseate Terns were down to two pairs from 17 last
year. Both the Common and Roseate Tern eggs are now hatching.
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge - Pond Island,
like Jenny, also has a mink, but there are additional concerns with
a Great Horned Owl visiting the island at night. Live traps for owls
are in place with hopes of capturing the bird for relocation. Predators
have caused some tern parents to abandon their nests at night. However,
many terns have stayed on their nests and their chicks are starting
to hatch, even the few Arctic Tern nests scattered around the island.
The 2008 census found 434 pairs of Common Tern and 4 Arctic Tern
pairs. This is an increase of 119 pairs of Common Terns over 2007.
Eastern Egg Rock - Eastern Egg Rock gained some
additional predation protection this week with the arrival of the “Robo
Ranger”. Robo Ranger is a life size robotic mannequin dressed
similar to Audubon biologists that rises periodically from behind
the rocks to aid in deterring predators from entering the tern colony.
The robot was designed and built by students and faculty from Dewitt
Middle School in Ithaca, NY with Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
engineers. The count of active puffin burrows continues to increase!
To date, 53 puffin burrows have chicks, including many of the puffins
in the Adopt-A-Puffin program. The 2008 tern census found 1,129 pairs
of Common Terns- a number similar to last year. Arctic and Roseate
Tern nest numbers have increased since last year: 111 Arctic and
129 Roseate Tern nests. Laughing Gulls continued their streak of
record breaking nest numbers by increasing over 200 nests since last
year to 1,972 pairs!
Matinicus Rock - The razorbill colony increased
by to a record high- 10% over the 312 pairs recorded in 2007. Puffin
chicks are just beginning to hatch as only a few burrows have become
active. Audubon biologists are also hearing many Manx Shearwater
vocalizations at night and two new possible burrow ‘starts’ were
found. The 2008 census showed that 1,084 Arctic Tern and 1,283 Common
Tern nests were found on Matinicus Rock. This is a large increase
in Common Terns and a big decline in Arctic Terns.
Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge - Most of
the terns that abandoned here last year due to May gull predation,
were back, occupying an expanded colony this year. This year’s
census found a total of 2,367 tern nests, 1,084 Arctic and 1,283
Common Tern nests. Puffin chicks are also just beginning to hatch
as only a few feedings have been seen around the island. A greater
amount of Common and Arctic Tern chicks have already hatched. The
puffin cam is working great on Seal Island. For close-up views, visit http://www.projectpuffin.org
SEABIRD CELEBRATION DAY IS JULY 5TH
Seabird enthusiasts will find additional reasons to visit Project
Puffin Visitor Center (PPVC) in Rockland on July 5th. This year’s
third annual celebration features outdoor seabird theme games for children,
a reading and book signing from Katharine Zecca, wildlife artist and
author of DownEast Press’ new book- A Puffin’s Year. The
celebration will feature the appearance of several live owls native
to Maine. DownEast Energy’s Captain Puffin- a five foot tall
fuzzy puffin and treats for all in attendance from Barbara’s
Bakery. Those not able to attend will have the opportunity to see an
Internet first- a live interview over the Puffin Cam with Seal Island
National Wildlife Refuge supervisor, Matt Klosterman. People at PPVC
will have the opportunity to ask Matt questions. Those not able to
attend can phone questions in by calling the center at 207-596-5566.
Tune into the Puffin Cam at http://www.projectpuffin.org at
1PM. The Center is a joint endeavor of the National and Maine Audubon
KARL MÅRTENS EXHIBIT OPENS
Project Puffin Visitor Center opens a show of original watercolors
of Maine Seabirds by Swedish artist Karl Mårtens on July 5th.
The show features 20 paintings of puffins, terns, gulls and other seabirds
that nest on Audubon sanctuaries in Maine. Mårtens paints in
a distinctive style, using his Zen training to produce brushstroke
images of the birds.
This show is Mårtens’ first exhibit in the United States.
Mårtens, a Stockholm resident, will visit Rockland from July
22-24 to speak at both the Puffin Project Visitor Center (5PM on July
23) and the Farnsworth Museum.
The paintings in the show and low edition numbers from limited edition
lithographs of a puffin and razorbill will be auctioned on July 25th.
Bids for the originals can be placed prior to the auction at Project
Puffin Visitor Center, 311 Maine Street, Rockland. Limited edition
lithographs of Mårtens are also available at the Center. Project
Puffin Visitor Center is open daily June 1-October 31 from 10AM-5PM
and on Wednesdays until 7PM. Several of Mårtens paintings and
lithographs are also on exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery in Damariscotta.
For a preview of the art in the show, visit: http://www.formifunktion.com/Project_Puffin_2008/index_2.htm
News From the Seabird Islands - June 5, 2008
IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2008 PROJECT
Project Puffin staff at our seven Maine field stations, as well as
mainland teams, headed into the field on May 29th for our 20th annual
birdathon to support Maine seabird conservation. The results of the
birdathon are still being compiled, so we have extended the deadline
to participate. If you have your birdathon participation/entry form,
there's still time to join in the fun and possibly win a prize. Any
entry postmarked June 9th or earlier will be accepted.
PUFFIN AND TERN CAMS ARE IN PLACE
At Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, the puffins are back, and
they’re busy coming and going from their burrows. The puffin
cam is offering great views of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and
terns. Likewise, the tern cam is focused on close-up nests of Common
and Arctic Terns. We’re especially pleased to report that the
puffin burrow cam is also in place—this year earlier than ever.
The camera sits deep within a nesting burrow and is currently showing
the parent puffins incubating their single egg. The seabird cameras
at Seal Island NWR rotate automatically between some of our favorite
views. The cameras are also controlled by visitors at the Project Puffin
Visitor Center in Rockland. Watching birds live over the cams is much
like being on the island in that one never knows for sure what they
will see. The puffin cam is sponsored by Barbara’s Bakery, maker
of ‘puffins’ cereals. Check out the puffin and tern
cams by visiting www.projectpuffin.org.
PUFFINS IN THE NEWS
Eastern Egg Rock puffins were the subject of a recent article in the
All of our seven Audubon-managed seabird islands now have field teams
in place- ten days earlier than previous years. Our impressions are
that tern and puffin numbers seem to be healthy during this early part
of the nesting season; exact numbers will be available as the summer
progresses. The first comprehensive census of gull and cormorant populations
since 1996 is currently underway in Maine, thanks to the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and numerous cooperating groups, including Audubon.
Air surveys will be combined with on-the-ground censuses. Great Black-backed
and Herring Gulls have not been counted for the past 12 years because
of the difficulty of counting more than 300 gull colonies, so the outcome
of this year's census is of great interest. Preliminary counts suggest
that eider duck populations have increased this year after a three
Matinicus Rock staff have observed noticeable growth
in the Razorbill colony, as these handsome cousins of the Atlantic
Puffin have not only increased in overall numbers, but have also colonized
new parts of the island for nesting. The results of this year’s
census will be available soon.
Laughing Gulls have arrived in unusually large numbers at Eastern
Egg Rock. For unknown reasons, these small gulls have
nearly abandoned Petit Manan Island National Wildlife Refuge in downeast
Maine. Egg Rock is already crowded with the small gulls which have
moved northward from southern states in recent years. In 2007, there
were approximately 1,700 pairs of Laughing Gulls on the seven acre
island. The arrival of more Laughing Gulls at Egg Rock could be a
problem for terns as they compete for nesting habitat and eat tern
chicks and eggs. A census in late June will reveal the size of the
Laughing Gull population.
The tern colony at Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge,
is threatened this year by a mink, a Great Horned Owl, and a Peregrine
Falcon! This trio of arch predators are harassing terns by day and
night. Live traps are now in place to capture the owl and the mink,
and our only hope for the Peregrine is for it to fly on to other ‘pastures’.
At Outer Green Island, 461 songbirds have been captured
to date in mist nests and set free after banding. This is the 2nd highest
count in the four years we’ve been running this project. Island
Supervisor Jen Knight reports 39 species so far, including two Orchard
Orioles, a Nelson’s Sharptail Sparrow, and a Field Sparrow. The
most common species caught have been Savannah Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats,
and White-throated Sparrows.
News From the Seabird Islands - May 15, 2008
THE PUFFIN CAM GOES LIVE!
The puffins are back, and so is the robotic puffin cam on Seal Island
National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the puffins are still on the water
swimming with eiders and other seabirds, but some are already coming
and going from their burrows and many are sitting on eggs. This year’s
earlier than ever launching of the puffin cam will provide friends
of Project Puffin with a chance to see these early visits to the island.
The puffin cam is perched on a rocky outcrop that will become increasingly
favored by ‘loafing’ puffins as the season proceeds. Morning
hours are the best time to watch for puffins, razorbills, and black
guillemots that will be coming and going from their nearby underground
burrows. In the coming weeks, plans are moving forward to install a
tern cam in the Arctic Tern colony and later an underground puffin
burrow cam. The puffin cam is set to rotate every few minutes to a
new location. To find the puffin cam, go to the home page of www.projectpuffin.org.
Visitors to Project Puffin Visitor Center, located at 311 Maine St
in Rockland, Maine can help control the camera and see the live camera
image projected on a large screen. The puffin cam is sponsored by Barbara’s
We hope that you enjoy the Puffin Cam!
The Project Puffin Staff.
News From the Seabird Islands - May 8, 2008
Our first research teams have just landed on two of our Maine islands-
Outer Green Island off of Portland and Stratton Island off of Prout's
Neck. The remaining five islands will soon open as well. To support
the protection of Maine seabirds and train this year's interns, I hope
that you will join the fun of this year's Bird-A-Thon.
Our annual Project Puffin Bird-A-Thon flyer will be arriving soon
in your mailbox!
Our 20th Bird-A-Thon will be held on May 29 and our teams will spend
the day peering through binoculars and spotting scopes. Of course,
we do that every day on the seabird islands, but on May 29, we are
looking for all the birds- including starlings and house sparrows!
We will tally the number of different species we see and count the
total number of puffins on land, sea or in the air.
We encourage you to join in the fun by guessing the number of different
species we will encounter and making a pledge per species. Or, join
the Bird-A-Thon by simply make a donation to support Project Puffin.
Everyone who mails in the Bird-A-Thon pledge card is entered into
our raffle for puffin-related prizes. The person who correctly guesses
the total number of different species that we see that day will win
a $75 gift certificate to our new Project Puffin Visitor Center Online
Store! More details about how our Bird-A-Thon works are included in
Sponsoring our Bird-A-Thon team is a fun way to help the puffins & our
seabird friends. Please donate or pledge a tax-deductible gift when
you receive your flyer to help us continue our restoration & protection
Updates from Past Seasons: