Atlantic puffins, those 10-inch-tall, fish-eating sea clowns, come in all different shapes and sizes, as photographer Sandy Flint shows. For four years Flint, a retired convenience store owner, has taken portraits of individual birds for Project Puffin’s Adopt-a-Puffin program, which offers avian admirers the chance to acquaint themselves with one of these auks. In addition to the photo, sponsors—who pay $100—receive biographical stats, including the bird’s age, mate, nesting spot, and number of chicks. “People come to Maine from around the world hoping to see their puffin,” says Steve Kress, Audubon’s vice president of bird conservation and the program’s director. “Some of these birds have these remarkable histories.” Like 34-year-old Y33, a female transplanted from Newfoundland in 1977 to Egg Rock and one of the first of her species to breed at the site in more than a century. All told, 15 puffins are up for adoption; since the program started in 1983, more than $1.2 million in donations has gone back to protecting their island home (projectpuffin.org/AdoptAPuffin.html).
A photographer's images help aquaint auks with those who want to adopt them.