Seabird Island News - Vol. 11 - 04 August 2023

Stunning, Stormy Seal Island NWR Sunset
It was a beautiful weather week in Maine, but a few storms did crop up. The Seal Island team got to enjoy a stunning, stormy sunset! Photo: Seal Island NWR

Just like that, it’s August! That means it’s time for the penultimate 2023 Seabird Island News. As the birds fly toward their next adventure, the nighttime skies have grown quiet. If you're a person that needs white noise to sleep at night, you may relate to how some researchers are feeling as the nightly squawking dissipates into greater silence.

Bird Word of the Week - Post-fledging Parental Care

Jenny Island’s research team made their return to the mainland on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Stratton Island, Pond Island NWR, Outer Green Island and Egg Rock teams have been preparing for their own fledgings. Blinds are being disassembled, vegetation management has been kicked into high gear, waterlogged cardboard is attempting to be burned, and staging for island egress is in progress.

The teams on Matinicus Rock and Seal Island NWR will soon make a brief return for next week’s Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group (GOMSWG) Summer Meeting. GOMSWG normally signals the end of our season and the Seabird Island News. Not this year. It’s time to party for Project Puffin’s 50th anniversary! Our final Seabird Island News will be released on August 18 so you can learn all about the celebration!

Puffin cam chick Duryea’s fledge last week seemed to spur a spate of other puffin fledgings, some of which have been captured by the infrared cameras. See if you can spot a fledgling one of these nights on the Boulder Berm Cam.

Puffins, when they fledge, do not yet have the colorful bill that is so characteristic to their appearance as adults. They’ll retain a sort of dull grey coloring until they reach breeding age (between 3-5 years), which is when, finally, they’ll develop that bright beak that we all know and love.

Infrared Camera Captures a Puffin Fledgling
Time for a game of infrared I-spy! Can you spot the puffin fledgling? Photo:
Awkward Teen Terns
Before they grow into their sleek adult bodies, terns, too, have an awkward teen phase. Photo:

To celebrate the impending end of seeing seabirds on the live cams, two members of the Seal Island research team joined the Seabird Institute’s Celeste Flahaven for a virtual live chat about the seabird breeding season this year. The panel talked about the possible reasons for the success of the fledglings this year (hint: ocean conditions played a key role!) and got around to answering plenty of audience questions. Researchers also reflected on the success of Project Puffin, which turns 50 this year—a milestone definitely worthy of celebration.

You can watch a replay of the live chat here:

Blind Art

Did you know that many of our scientists are also artists?! Some researchers use slow observation periods to let their creative juices flow.

Pond Island Research Blind Art Sketches by Theresa Rizza
Pond Island's favorite blind art is found in the Breeze Blind. This representation of the view from the blind was done by this year's Island Supervisor, Theresa Rizza. Photo: Theresa Rizza
Stratton Island Research Blind Art
"This drawing is among my favorites among our wonderful blind artworks here on Stratton. It is in Float, one of our Roseate Tern blinds. Not only does it continue our tradition of amazing tern puns, but it also speaks to the hours and hours of time we invest in watching our terns. Seeing adorable little [chicks] with their mouthes stuffed full of fish has certainly been my 'retern' on investment." Photo: Coco Deng
EER-Research Blind Poetry
Poetry can also be found within the blinds, like this piece from former Egg Rock Island Supervisor, Kay Garlick-Ott. Photo: Seabird Institute
You never know when the health inspector will show up, but our Gulf of Maine teams are always glad to see them! Photo: Jenny Island

For additional news, please visit the Seabird Island News index page.

Learn about birds and take action