Author Archives: Hilary Lane

Audubon Project Puffin: Extinction to Repopulation

Maybe you’ve seen those cute little clownish birds, with their colorful beaks and penguin looks. But did you know the Atlantic Puffins became extinct in our country for 100 years? Now they’re re-emerging off the Gulf of Maine in an incredible success story that is still unfolding.

The National Audubon Society launched Project Puffin in 1973 to help restore the Puffins to their historic nesting islands. Led by world-renowned ornithologist Dr. Stephen Kress, an international leader in seabird conservation and vice president for bird conservation for Audubon, Project Puffin uses innovative bird restoration techniques that have enabled the Puffin colonies to grow.

In “Audubon Project Puffin — Extinction to Repopulation,” Dr. Kress, known as the “Puffin Man,” recounts some amazing stories and provides interesting Puffin tidbits–including why it is important to have these birds return to their original nesting areas, the process to get them back (wooden decoys and mirrors, for starters), how long these birds live, where they go and what they do during the winter months when they’re not nesting, how many fish their beaks can hold simultaneously, and hear some of the strangest bird sounds around! Plus, you’ll learn about what’s happening globally to the plight of seabirds in general.

The Audubon Project Puffin restoration success is a model for building seabird colonies worldwide. At least 40 seabird species in 14 countries have benefited from the project. However, years of work, persistence, and adaptation, challenges such as oil spills, depleted food supplies, fishing nets and predators make it even more incredible that these species are flourishing.

Project Puffin offers field watching boat tours, a live Puffin cam, adoption opportunities, a visitor center, and much more at the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary on mid-coast Maine.

InĀ  addition to his work with the Atlantic Puffins, Dr. Kress is an associate at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, where he developed and teaches a popular spring field ornithology course. His books include Project Puffin: How We Brought Puffins Back to Egg Rock, The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds, and numerous books on bird habitats.