Seabird Island News - Vol. 7 - 12 June 2024

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Razorbill chick grubbed on Seal Island NWR
A Razorbill chick grubbed on Seal Island NWR. Photo: Seal Island


As we get closer and closer to summer, egg dwellers are beginning to make their post-hatch debuts. Puffin with fish sightings are on the rise and that means puffin parents are heading home to feed hungry pufflings nestled in their burrows.  The team on Seal Island even welcomed their first Razorbill chicks.  Even the team on Stratton Island, our southern-most research station, relished alcid excitement. The crew found two Black Guillemot burrows, one of which had two eggs!

A researcher grubbing for Razorbill chicks
A researcher grubbing for Razorbill chicks. Grubbing is when researchers reach into underground nesting burrows to search for chicks to temporarily remove to weigh, measure, and band before returning them to their burrows.


Census days were slightly delayed for some islands due to foggy and wet weather, but tern census 2024 is complete. Egg and nest count are generally up from last year, though final results are yet to be tallied. While some new nests continue to be found, teams were delighted to see that some eggs have been replaced by chicks, lovely referred to as fluffballs. Feeding and productivity studies are underway!

Matinicus Rock Team untangling Northern Gannet tangled in fishing gear
The team on Matinicus Rock noticed an immature Northern Gannet tangled in some fishing gear. The team was able to disentangle the bird from the debris and release it back into the water. Great work! Photo: Matinicus Rock

Engagement Shaped by Experience

Outreach and Education staff are hired each summer to share Project Puffin’s story with visitors at the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland, Maine, as well as passengers on Puffin Cruises. Spending time on Eastern Egg Rock allows this team an opportunity to get their hands dirty and participate in seabird research. To taste the life of a researcher, they conducted blind stints watching the puffin and terns and trying to resight the tiny bands around their little legs, conducted productivity counts, hunted for new nests, recorded the data each night. This rare experience allows them to better craft their narrations and inspire their public audiences. - Puffling Alert!

In the early morning, Millie was incubating the egg in the Puffin Burrow when suddenly….. She ruffled her feathers and a brand new puffling popped out from beneath her! Keen-eyed viewers spotted the egg pipping around 5pm on June 11, which hatched into a fully emerged chick around on June 12 at 6:32am!

A bird and its chick in a nesting burrow.
Newly fluffed and out of its egg, Willie and Millie’s puffling is ready for the world. Photo:

After taking cam viewer suggestions, it’s decided that this year’s puffling will be named Ama. The name Ama  honors a longtime puffin cam viewer from Norway who passed away in November 2023. She was instrumental in naming some past pufflings, including Pal, which she said was the Welsh word for puffin. Further, Ama was a dear friend to many in's puffin cam community. Let’s welcome our newest puffling, Ama, to the world!

Additionally, the Guillemot Burrow pair welcomed their first egg! Despite several disturbances from prospecting puffins, it appears that the Black Guillemot pair finally decided to settle down. Their speckled egg, which may be the first of two, was laid around 4:30pm on June 10th! The parents will incubate the egg for about four weeks.

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

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