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A Puffin Colony's 40-Year Journey Back To Maine11:01Download

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More than four decades ago, budding ornithologist Stephen Kress picked up an old field guide, and read that colonies of puffins had once nested on a tiny Maine island called Egg Rock, the last ones disappearing around 1885.

That fact so captivated him, he decided to try something that no other ornithologist ever had - he would attempt to restore a native bird population to the Maine islands where they had once thrived.

Researchers approach the puffin population on Egg Rock (click to enlarge). (Courtesy of Stephen Kress)
Researchers approach the puffin population on Egg Rock (click to enlarge). (Courtesy of Stephen Kress)

But it would be no simple task. Not only did it mean finding puffin chicks and transplanting them as hatchlings, but also hand-rearing them, tagging them and then waiting for years for them to grow up at sea and come home to mate and rear their own young. If they came back at all.

Today, more than 1,000 pairs of puffins populate the five Maine islands around Muscongus Bay. But it took eight years before the first pair came home to mate, and another 30 or so to get the healthy population that lives and nests there today.

Stephen Kress's new book "Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock" documents not only the effort to restore the population to Egg Rock, but also the history of the region's puffins, and a look forward to their future fate.

Kress joined Here & Now's Robin Young, along with photojournalist and co-author Derrick Jackson, to discuss "Project Puffin."

See More Of Derrick Jackson's Photos Of Puffins

A puffin flies with a fish. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin flies with a fish. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin holds a leaf it its mouth. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin holds a leaf it its mouth. (Derrick Jackson)
A close-up of a puffin. (Derrick Jackson)
A close-up of a puffin. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin checks out a puffin decoy. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin checks out a puffin decoy. (Derrick Jackson)
A fledgling fights for a fish. (Derrick Jackson)
A fledgling fights for a fish. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin flies with a fish in its mouth. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin flies with a fish in its mouth. (Derrick Jackson)
Three puffins sit on a rock. (Derrick Jackson)
Three puffins sit on a rock. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin holds two fish in its beak. (Derrick Jackson)
A puffin holds two fish in its beak. (Derrick Jackson)

Guests

  • Derrick Z. Jackson, photojournalist and member of The Boston Globe editorial board. He tweets @GlobeJackson.
  • Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society and a field instructor in ornithology at Cornell University.

This segment aired on May 12, 2015.

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