Saturday, November 8, 2014

Project Puffin 5: Checking razorbills and puffins

Earlier this summer, aquarists Austin Brayton and Jackie Anderson camped on a remote island in Maine to assist with Project Puffin, an Audubon Society project designed to restore populations of these clownish little seabirds. In this post, we join Jackie on Seal Island to check on razorbill and puffin burrows.

June 20, 2014 
Meanwhile on Matinicus Rock, checking on razorbills and puffins

Today we spent the morning checking razorbill and puffin burrows, surveying which burrows had eggs and which burrows had hatched chicks. We also had an exciting event where one of our puffin burrows from previous years, had a puffin in it that had a geolocator attached to its leg. We grubbed the puffin (which means we carefully removed it from its burrow) and removed the geolocator. This is very exciting because, if the data is retrievable from the geolocator, it could provide some incredible insight into where the puffins go when they are not on the breeding islands and could potentially help protect them during the rest of the year.

Matinicus Island Supervisor Frank Mayer holds a puffin while Aspen Ellis removes a geolocator band

Today’s afternoon was also very interesting, as we were joined by a team from US Fish and Wildlife Service. They were installing large antennae on the lighthouse which were designed to download data from transmitters on the backs of terns as they flew by. As they were installing the antennae, we were capturing more terns for them to attach radio transmitters to. The data from this project will help them to determine if there is a change in foraging behavior, meaning how and where they look for food, between when they are on eggs and when they have chicks.

— Jackie

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