25 NESTS IN OUR 25TH YEAR
The original puffin population at Egg Rock was decimated by excessive hunting for food and feathers that led to the loss of the colony by the late 1880s. Puffins recolonized Eastern Egg Rock in 1981-eight years after the first puffin chicks were reared and released at the island. In 1979, an effort was begun to boost the small colony on Matinicus Rock where puffins had persisted since the beginning of the century. The Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge puffin restoration began in 1984 (see Seal Island Update.)
The restored puffin colony at Eastern Egg Rock began with four pairs in 1981 and then leveled off at about 16 pairs for nearly a decade before increasing to 19 pairs in 1996, 22 pairs in 1997 and 25 pairs in 1998. This is especially heartening since translocation of young chicks ended in 1986 and all recent colony growth is due to unbanded birds which are either young produced at Egg Rock or at neighboring islands. By 1998, 77 percent of the known Egg Rock breeders were unbanded birds which had likely hatched at the island or at other puffin colonies in the Gulf of Maine.
While the Egg Rock puffin colony is small compared to huge colonies
in Newfoundland, Iceland, Scotland and elsewhere, this tiny island has
demonstrated that with enough persistence and care, restoration of lost
seabird communities is possible. This is important because too often human
enterprise results in the loss of colonies, leading to reduced ranges and
increased vulnerability to catastrophes such as chemical spills, disease,
extreme weather and predation.
All contents © 1998, Seabird Restoration Program of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved. More copyrights.