Seabird Island News - Vol. 7 - 07 July 2023

Razorbill close-up
This Razorbill is ready for its close up! Photo: Maceo Susi

Seabird Island News

Dreary weather continued last weekend, but the skies have now cleared, and the sun is shining above our seabird nesting islands. Finally! Maine Public reported that this June was one of the wettest on record here in Maine. With all the time spent waiting out storms at their respective field camps, our research teams sure can believe it! The team on Matinicus Rock noted, It’s funny to think that we worried about having enough water in May, and now we can fill a whole pot just by leaving it on that porch!”


July 4th is also known as "Puffin with Fish Day" in the Gulf of Maine, marking the first day a puffin was seen returning to Eastern Egg Rock with fish in its bill in 1981, signaling the presence of at least one puffling in a burrow on the island. A momentous day in Project Puffin history, "Puffin with Fish Day" is celebrated as a major milestone for puffin restoration here in Maine.

This year on the holiday, one Seal Islander reflected, “It was nice to think about that very first puffin with fish as I tried to keep up with the astonishing number of puffins circling the blind, bills heavy with Sand Lance. I got more feedings than I ever have before, and about twice as many as in a normal stint!”

Wins, all around!

Steve Kress spent Puffin with Fish Day on Eastern Egg Rock.
Steve Kress spent Puffin with Fish Day on Eastern Egg Rock. The team gathered together to toast the occasion as Steve read the journal entry from July 4, 1981. Photo: Don Lyons


Last weekend’s rain did cause some chicks to succumb to exposure, but fortunately most of the older, stronger chicks were able to weather the storms.

There are more contour feathers showing up on chicks in Jenny Island’s study plots, meaning that they’re growing quickly—right on schedule. A few chicks are even big enough to hop right out of the box used to hold them during regular monitoring efforts! Outer Green Island has had some notable tern visitors this week: a Caspian Tern was seen flying by the island early in the week and another distinguished guest was a Common Tern tagged in Argentina, identified by the plastic band on the bird's left leg.

Bird Word of the Week - Webbed Feet

Overcast skies throughout past week interrupted the live camera feeds on Seal Island, but not to fear—amazingly observant viewers were able to collect clips from the brief periods when the feed was restored! 

We saw a Herring Gull hanging out with the puffins on the Loafing Ledge, a sight that reminds us of the scale of the birds. Puffins are deceptively small birds (despite their larger-than-life antics), and they appear positively pint-sized next to a hulking gull. 

Herring Gull vocalizing on the Loafing Ledge
A Herring Gull performed a one-man opera to a crowd of uninterested puffins on the Loafing Ledge. Photo:
Two tern chicks playing
Tern playdate caught on the Boulder Berm camera! Photo:
Tern and its chick having a play date
This shy tern chick sticks by its parent’s side. Photo:
Atlantic Puffin bringing Sand Lance to puffling for its dinner
“Mooom, not Sand Lance for dinner again!” Photo:


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

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