Over the last 38 years, techniques developed by Dr. Stephen Kress, Director of Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program and Project Puffin, have restored breeding Atlantic Puffins and other seabirds to Maine’s coastal islands. Beginning this spring, the innovative approach, which uses decoys, mirrors, and recordings to attract birds to suitable nesting sites, will be implemented on the Baja California peninsula.
The California Brown Pelican, Cassin’s Auklet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, and Xantus’s Murrelet—at-risk seabirds that will benefit from this collaborative effort involving Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (GECI), and the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (MFCN). The five-year program will be made possible by $4 million in funding from The Montrose and Luckenbach Trustee Councils and Mexico’s government, plus matching funds from the Natural Protected Areas Commission from the government of Mexico and the MFCN . The program will be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The islands selected for the project are located off the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula and provide breeding sites for 17 seabird species. Decoys, mirrors, and broadcast seabird calls will be used to attract birds to islands that have been cleared of introduced predators over the past decade. The conservation partners will also restore habitat, prevent human disturbance on the islands, and provide environmental education programs with a focus on seabird conservation to the surrounding communities.
“It’s rewarding to see that our work to help puffins on the coast of Maine will now help at-risk seabirds in Mexico,” said Dr. Kress. “I am especially pleased that two of the Mexican leaders, María Félix and Marlenne Rodríguez from GECI, both served as Project Puffin interns. Now they’ll be using skills acquired in Maine to help seabirds in Mexico.”
Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program has trained hundreds of interns since 1973; many are now professional conservation biologists working with seabirds. For more information, visit www.projectpuffin.org.
The collaborative effort in Baja will be critically important for seabirds that live along the California Current (from Canada to Mexico). As many as 2.5 million seabirds breed on the islands where work will occur: Coronado, Todos Santos, San Martín, San Jerónimo, Natividad, Asunción, and San Roque Islands. This is at least half of the total breeding seabirds in the California Current.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Lands Commission, and California Department of Parks and Recreation are also providing essential support for this initiative. For more information from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (in English and Spanish), visit http://bit.ly/sAPqmR