Puffin Cams Bring Rare View of Magical Birds in the Wild to a Global Audience

explore.org and Audubon Open Window on Restored Maine Seabird Colony with Live HD Streams and Field Blog

Landing Puffins
Steve Kress
Published: Jun 27, 2012
New York, NY - 
explore.org, the philanthropic media organization and division of the Annenberg Foundation, is expanding its collection of live HD cameras to bring people into the world of the charismatic and much-revered Atlantic Puffin. Through a multiyear partnership with Audubon, spearheaded by pioneering ornithologist Dr. Stephen Kress, nature enthusiasts worldwide now have a virtual front-row seat to observe the daily activities of these magical seabirds on any Internet-connected computer, phone or tablet. With multiple HD cameras set up at Maine's Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, the live-streaming HD video will show puffins as they court, breed, preen and strut about one of New England's most remote islands. Audubon and explore.org recently launched an intimate live cam view of an Osprey nest on Hog Island, Maine, where three chicks just hatched, and will provide highlights and insights from field researchers on a new co-hosted blog.

With the new Puffin Cams, viewers will be treated to a rare, real-time view into a puffin burrow, where a pair of lifelong partners incubated their egg and recently brought the newest member of their family into this world. Another camera will provide a view of the "loafing ledge"-- a massive boulder where the birds engage in "billing" (a ritual of gentle beak rubbing by courting and long-mated pairs), compete for a favored position on the ledge, and engage in feather preening to enhance their waterproofing. 

 "The Puffin Cams have a mesmerizing effect that we believe will help people escape the stresses of everyday life and provide a positive benefit that will carry over when they return to their daily obligations," said Charles Annenberg Weingarten, founder of explore.org and VP of the Annenberg Foundation.

Overhunting and military activity wiped out puffins on Seal Island in the late 1800s, but the birds' return began in 1984, when Audubon Project Puffin Director and Vice President, Dr. Stephen Kress, began reintroducing puffins from Newfoundland to the island in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Kress also pioneered the use of mirrors, sound recordings and decoys to encourage the relocated puffins to nest. This year, more than 550 pairs are nesting, making this the largest Maine puffin colony and an extraordinary conservation success story. The methods developed here have helped to restore 13 seabird nesting sanctuaries along the Maine coast and have inspired similar projects with at least 49 seabird species in 14 countries.    

Maine's puffins are now protected and studied by a team of scientists and summer interns who live in a tiny cabin and tents from May to August. The loafing ledge is located at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, jointly managed by Audubon and the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. 

"We're excited to give people a window into this wonderful world of seabirds, and we hope to inspire viewers everywhere to take actions that improve the planet for birds and people," said Dr. Kress.  

For explore.org, the Puffin Cams are the latest addition to its Pearls of the Planet initiative, a portfolio of live video feeds installed around the world to help people everywhere deepen their connection to nature and fall in love with the world again.

To see Puffins or Ospreys live, go to explore.org/birds.

See video highlights below:

http://explore.org/#!/videos/player/discover-the-puffins-of-seal-island-maine

http://explore.org/#!/videos/player/loafing-around

http://explore.org/#!/videos/player/curious-ways

 

More about Puffins and the Seabird Restoration Program

Puffins are seabirds that feed underwater, diving as deep as 200 feet in search of small fish and crustaceans such as shrimp. The stocky, short-tailed birds breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, nesting in crevices among rocks or in burrows. Puffins form long-term relationships. The female lays a single egg in late April and chicks begin hatching by mid-June; both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick (or "puffling").

Maine puffins were hunted for eggs, feathers and meat in the late 19th century, and by the early 1900s, just a few birds remained at nearby Matinicus Rock, where they were protected by lighthouse keepers who had been hired as Audubon wardens. On their remote islands, puffins have few predators, but Great Black-backed Gulls and Peregrine Falcons are their greatest predators at the nesting colonies. At sea, puffins are vulnerable to oil spills, entanglement in fishing gear, ingestion of plastics and shifts in food supplies related to climate change. While puffin populations have suffered from human activities in the past, their recovery in Maine demonstrates that humans also have the ability to protect puffins and the oceans we share with them. Scientists point to the importance of stemming climate change and overfishing to the future of puffins and other seabirds.

You can adopt a Maine puffin at www.projectpuffin.org.

To learn about puffin behavior and hear their sounds, go to www.projectpuffin.org/PuffinQuestions.html.

 

Contacts:

explore.org:  Chris Thonis | (303) 818-2170 | chris@fabricmedia.net

National Audubon Society:  Delta Willis| (212) 979-3197| dwillis@audubon.org

 

About explore.org

Explore.org is a philanthropic media organization and a multi-media division of the Annenberg Foundation. Created by filmmaker and philanthropist Charles Annenberg Weingarten to champion the selfless acts of others, inspire lifelong learning and bring people closer to nature, explore.org is home to more than 300 original films and a massive library of world-class photography from all over the globe. In addition, explore.org recently launched Pearls of the Planet, a growing collection of live HD cameras that provide people with an unprecedented view into the lives of amazing animals and beautiful places around the world. As an advertising-free philanthropic media organization, explore.org regularly provides grants to organizations focused on improving the human condition and the planet.

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Press Contacts

Delta Willis
Senior Communications Manager - Public Affairs
Main Office
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
dwillis@audubon.org
(212) 979-3197