Saving Seabirds

Saving Seabirds

New lessons from puffins and terns

Hear from Dr. Stephen Kress and Dr. Don Lyons about seabird restoration in Maine.

The story of how a colony of Atlantic puffins was restored off the coast of Maine offers hope and inspiration at a time when many seabird species worldwide are threatened because of invasive predatory mammals, marine pollution, and the effects of climate change.

Dr. Kress provides examples of how methods he developed for bringing puffins back to Maine are helping to create new colonies of endangered seabirds around the world. Dr. Lyons shares how restored colonies of puffins and terns are providing fresh insight into the changing marine climate of the Gulf of Maine and serve as indicators of the health of key forage fish populations.

Drs. Kress and Lyons also discuss the recent discovery of where puffins go in winter, and explain how this new knowledge contributed to the establishment of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in 2016.

Recorded on May 21, 2021 in Damariscotta, Maine.

About the presenters

Dr. Stephen Kress holding an Atlantic puffin chickDr. Stephen Kress is the founder of National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin and a Visiting Fellow of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. He previously served as Vice-President for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society and Director of the Hog Island Audubon Camp in Bremen, Maine. His career focus is development of techniques for managing nesting seabirds. Hundreds of professional seabird biologists can trace their first interest in seabirds to internships with Project Puffin and many innovative seabird conservation methods that he developed in Maine are now standard practice worldwide. Dr. Kress received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and his Master’s and undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University. He is co-author with Derrick Z. Jackson of Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird back to Egg Rock and the recently published ‘The Puffin Plan’, his autobiography for 12+ readers. He is also author of many books on bird watching, gardening for birds and online courses about birds as well as science papers about seabird conservation.

Dr. Don Lyons, Director of Conservation Science for the Audubon Seabird Institute, joined Audubon in 2018 and now leads seabird research and stewardship efforts at Audubon’s sanctuary network of seven seabird nesting islands in Maine as well as contributing to conservation and research projects elsewhere. He has worked on seabird ecology and conservation for over 20 years from the North Atlantic in Maine to the South Pacific in Indonesia, and provided leadership on projects of great conservation relevance such as colony restoration for the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern in Asia, investigations of the steep decline of Aleutian Terns in Alaska, and reduction of conflicts between Caspian Terns and threatened salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. His current efforts include expanding the use of seabird diet and reproductive performance to inform fisheries management, assessing the impacts of our warming climate on marine ecosystems, and the restoration of vulnerable tern and alcid populations.

Don also serves as an instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp and Oregon State University where he holds an Assistant Professor (Research) appointment in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He has taught courses on seabird ecology and conservation, physiology of marine megaphauna, and natural resource management, and regularly advises graduate students.

Featured photo: Dr. Lyons holding a nearly-fledged Atlantic puffin chick, or “puffling.”