Project Puffin, Eastern Egg Rock

Project #: 197155  –   Updated: November 08, 2012

Project Summary

The National Audubon Society started Project Puffin in 1973 to learn how to restore puffins to islands in the Gulf of Maine. Back then, there were only two surviving puffin colonies in Maine (on Matinicus Rock and Machias Seal Island). A single disaster, such as an oil spill, or accidental establishment of predators such as rats or mink, could have wiped them out.

Puffins had nested on Eastern Egg Rock until about 1885 when hunters took the last survivors of this once-flourishing colony. Puffins return to breed at the place from which they were hatched. So, Audubon brought six 10-14 da...

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Location (by county):

Watersheds:
St. George-Sheepscot

Congressional Districts:
ME District 01

Bird Conservation Regions:

USFWS Regions:

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Project Puffin, Eastern Egg Rock No

Full Project Description

The National Audubon Society started Project Puffin in 1973 to learn how to restore puffins to islands in the Gulf of Maine. Back then, there were only two surviving puffin colonies in Maine (on Matinicus Rock and Machias Seal Island). A single disaster, such as an oil spill, or accidental establishment of predators such as rats or mink, could have wiped them out.

Puffins had nested on Eastern Egg Rock until about 1885 when hunters took the last survivors of this once-flourishing colony. Puffins return to breed at the place from which they were hatched. So, Audubon brought six 10-14 day-old puffins from Great Island, Newfoundland (they aren't endangered there; there are about 160,000 pairs) to repopulate Eastern Egg Rock. Audubon biologists created sod burrows for them to nest in, and hand fed them, acting, in effect, as puffin parents. They even brought in terns to act as body guards (terns are one of the few types of birds that can keep away seagulls, which like to eat puffin eggs).

"Between 1973 and 1986, 954 young puffins were transplanted from Great Island to Eastern Egg Rock and 914 of these successfully fledged. Transplanted puffins began returning to Eastern Egg Rock in June of 1977. To lure them ashore and encourage the birds to explore nesting habitat, wooden puffin decoys were positioned atop large boulders. These were readily visited by the curious young birds, which often sat with the models and pecked at their stiff wooden beaks. The number of young puffins slowly increased. In 1981, four pairs nested beneath boulders at the edge of the island. The colony has since increased to 101 pairs as of 2008...
...National Audubon biologists have also developed techniques for managing terns and storm-petrels, species that also have declined in recent years. Techniques such as gull and vegetation control, use of tern decoys, and tape recordings of courtship sounds broadcast from the islands are helping to restore colonies. These efforts are so successful, that in recent years, Eastern Egg Rock has become the largest Maine colony of the endangered Roseate Tern. "
--from the Project Puffin website (see link at right for their latest newsletter)

Project Assistance & Partnership Opportunities

Volunteers

To find out about volunteering in the field: http://www.projectpuffin.org/FieldRschOpps.html

Funding

Adopt a puffin or donate to Project Puffin here: http://www.projectpuffin.org/InterimPymtPg.html Or, purchase great puffin-themed merchandise from their store, here: http://shop.projectpuffin.org/

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Conservation Mission
Audubon’s Mission: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.

Targeted habitats were not provided for this project.

Targeted species:

  • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica
  • Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

Actions

Project Actions
Reintroduce native species Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

"Atlantic Puffins, Common, Arctic, and Roseate Terns, Black Guillemots,The Eastern Egg Rock field season begins in mid May and continues through mid August. The island supervisor is responsible for coordinating the timing of specific projects and participation by staff and volunteers throughout the field season and for writing a final report. Work includes, but is not limited to the following projects; annual tern, eider, and laughing gull census, tern band resighting, tern chick Eastern Egg Rock Arial by Steve Kressprovisioning, productivity and growth studies, puffin census, productivity, band resighting and provisioning studies, vegetation monitoring and management and daily weather and bird lists. "

What lessons have been learned and/or what suggestions do you have for similar activities?

"Techniques such as gull and vegetation control, use of tern decoys, and tape recordings of courtship sounds broadcast from the islands are helping to restore colonies. "

What additional information would you like to share?

"These techniques have also helped to protect the terns at Matinicus Rock and establish new tern colonies at Seal Island, Stratton Island (Saco Bay), Jenny Island (Casco Bay), and Pond Island (Kennebec River), and Outer Green Island. These methods are also proving useful for helping endangered seabirds in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador (Dark-rumped Petrels), California (Common Murres) and Japan (Short-tailed Albatross). At least 40 seabird species in 12 countries have benefited from seabird restoration techniques developed by Project Puffin."
--from Project Puffin's website (see link at right)