Project Puffin


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The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock

Stephen W. Kress and Derrick Z. Jackson

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The inspiring story of a young ornithologist who reintroduced puffins where none had been seen for a century  

Project Puffin
 is the inspiring story of how a beloved seabird was restored to long-abandoned nesting colonies off the Maine coast. As a young ornithology instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, Dr. Stephen W. Kress learned that puffins had nested on nearby islands until extirpated by hunters in the late 1800s. To right this environmental wrong, he resolved to bring puffins back to one such island—Eastern Egg Rock. Yet bringing the plan to reality meant convincing skeptics, finding resources, and inventing restoration methods at a time when many believed in “letting nature take its course.”

Today, Project Puffin has restored more than 1,000 puffin pairs to three Maine islands. But even more exciting, techniques developed during the project have helped to restore rare and endangered seabirds worldwide. Further, reestablished puffins now serve as a window into the effects of global warming. The success of Dr. Kress’s project offers hope that people can restore lost wildlife populations and the habitats that support them. The need for such inspiration has never been greater.

Stephen W. Kress is the National Audubon Society’s Vice President for Bird Conservation and director of the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program and Hog Island Audubon Camp. Derrick Z. Jackson, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and an accomplished photographer, is a contributing columnist at the Boston Globe. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

“A story that is, at its heart, about how a kid from Ohio accomplished one of the biggest conservation victories of our time.”—BirdWatching magazine

Project Puffin documents how one determined scientist with a real passion for the region, its ecology, its history, and its birdlife, can accomplish the reality of bringing back a species with a highly complex life history.  It is exactly what lay readers and students need to read in order to begin to understand what conservation science actually is.  And it is really fun (and I daresay inspiring) to read.”—John Kricher, author of The Balance of Nature and A Neotropical Companion

“A story of struggle and hope, and an inspiration to future wildlife stewards.”—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle

“An inspiring book on Stephen Kress's dream of re-introducing puffins to an island where man had eradicated them. A brilliant case study of how drive and enthusiasm can overcome problems.”—Mike P. Harris, co-author of The Puffin

“The world needs more people like Steve Kress, whose singular commitment and passion—a dedication to one bird at one island—has had a global impact. This book brings his story wonderfully and personally to life. I’m sure it will inspire and encourage a new generation of caretakers of the natural world.”—David Sibley, author of The Sibley Guides

“Engaging. . . Here is one of the great success stories of conservation. The verdict: Of interest to birders, natural history buffs, New Englanders, conservationists, and environmentalists.”—Henry T. Armistead, Library Journal

“Restoring puffins to Maine has been a glorious, four-decades obsession for Steve Kress—one underpinned by plenty of stubbornness and grit, as this frank retelling of Project Puffin's remarkable history makes clear. And thank goodness for that tenacity, because the techniques he pioneered on Eastern Egg Rock are today helping endangered seabirds around the world. This is the compelling story of the messy, uncertain, ultimately uplifting work of real conservation.”—Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind

“A well-told drama.”—Natural History magazine

“Readers who love the nitty-gritty of conservation will get a good flavor of it here.”—Bob Holmes, New Scientist

“Kress’s achievement is impressive both as a conservation victory and as an example of personal devotion and patience. . . . .[His] charm and wit bring the project to life.”—Thomas Urquhart, Portland Press-Herald

“Kress and Jackson present a ripping yarn. . . a fine read.”—Iain J. Stenhouse, The Condor

“His dedication and tenacity is inspiring to any conservationist who might be thinking of giving up their struggles. To them I say: read this book!”—Peter G.H Evans, Ibis
ISBN: 9780300204810
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
376 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
8-page color insert; 30 black-and-white images