Dr. Steve Kress giving his presentation at the OCAS Annual Dinner. Photo by Gary Starr

An overflow crowd at OCAS’ annual dinner at the Waybury Inn on 10 November heard Dr. Stephen Kress, Vice-president for Bird Conservation of National Audubon and Director of Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Project, describe his world-acclaimed program to restore Atlantic Puffins and several other seabird species to islands along the Maine coast. Dr. Kress manages 13 islands in the Gulf of Maine with the help of 18 summertime interns. This program, begun in 1973 with the translocation of Atlantic Puffin chicks to Maine’s Eastern Egg Rock from Newfoundland, and continued to the present with patience and persistence, has resulted in restoration of several thousand breeding pairs of puffins, three tern species, Leach’s Storm Petrels and other seabird in the face of overwhelming predation by gulls, mink, owls, peregrines and, formerly, hunters and fishermen. Dr. Kress developed a management technique that takes advantage of social attraction with decoys, recorded bird calls and mirrors to draw seabirds to land on, and ultimately to nest on, islands from which they have been absent for decades. His social attraction technique has been used successfully in dozens of colonial waterbird restoration projects on islands around the world.

Dr. Kress is Director of Maine Audubon’s Hog Island Camp, which has a conservation history that goes back 75 years. He emphasized in his presentation the multiple opportunities for adults and families to learn about seabirds and songbirds during the several 5-day sessions during the spring, summer and fall at Hog Island. He noted that internships were available next summer for seabird research and conservation on the islands in his care. For more information go to ProjectPuffin.org.

– Warren King

The presentation was enjoyed by a packed house.