Project Puffin Story

Read Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock

About the Book:

Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock (Yale U. Press, 2015) presents an inspiring story of how Dr. Stephen W. Kress ("The Puffin Man") re-established a population of puffins off the coast of Maine. Nature photographer Derrick Z. Jackson provides assistance in telling the tale.

As a young ornithology instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, Steve Kress learned that puffins had nested on nearby islands until extirpated by hunters in the late 1800s. To right this environmental wrong, he resolved to bring puffins back to one island - Eastern Egg Rock. Bringing the plan to reality meant convincing skeptics, finding resources, and inventing restoration methods at a time when many believed in “letting nature take its course.”

Today, more than four decades later, The National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin has restored more than 1,000 puffin pairs to three Maine islands. But even more exciting, techniques developed during the project have helped to restore rare and endangered seabirds worldwide. Further, reestablished puffins now serve as a window into the effects of global warming. The success of Dr. Kress’s project offers hope that people can restore lost wildlife populations and the habitats that support them. The need for such inspiration has never been greater.

About the Authors:

Stephen W. Kress is the National Audubon Society's Vice President for Bird Conservation and director of the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program and Hog Island Audubon Camp. He is an associate of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca NY, where he developed and teaches a popular course in field ornithology. His work in seabird conservation and habitat restoration is world renowned for the  innovative methods developed in Maine. He lives in Ithaca, NY. 

Derrick Z. Jackson is an award-winning op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in commentary. He is an associate editor at the paper as well as being an editorial board member. He is also well known for his nature and documentary photography; his images of Barak Obama have been exhibited by the Boston Museum of African American History. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

Book Reviews:

American Birding Association (November 2015): "Knowledge has been gained, effective techniques have been pioneered, and many other birds have been helped by Project Puffin. The project has drawn considerable media attention over the years, and innumerable people have learned about the importance of conservation and, most importantly, inspired to do their part. If it is now up to us to “play God” in preserving biodiversity, Kress has done more than his share in helping fill the ranks of those who will shoulder the task."

The Condor (October 2015): "Kress and Jackson present a ripping yarn that, ultimately, is just the first installment in the slowly ripening story of Project Puffin and the people who dedicate their lives to the cause of seabird conservation. Even knowing some of the individuals involved, and having heard some of the stories before, I found it extremely enlightening to go back and live this project with them. This is a fine read, and I highly recommend getting up close and personal with the islands that these seabirds choose to call home, and, while you’re at it, delving into the improbable."

Portland Press Herald (July 2015): "Project Puffin makes a strong case for going beyond laissez-fair conservation that leaves recovery to nature. But “playing God” inevitably leads to increasingly tricky questions. Eliminate black-backed and herring gulls to gain a puffin colony? No problem. But then laughing gulls (a species of special concern in Maine) return with the puffins and need to be controlled. Increased numbers of bald eagles and peregrine falcons also pose threats. Kress doesn’t suggest culling them, but one wonders where and how the line is drawn. “Project Puffin” is a serious book that raises immensely important questions."

The Project Puffin Online Store carries copies of this book. Proceeds from sales of the book through the Online Store benefit the ongoing work of Project Puffin.


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