The Number Of Puffin Chicks That Are Surviving On Maine’s Coastal Islands Dropped Significantly This Year

A puffin egg sits on the ground

(Brian Bechard/Maine Public)

Biologists say that puffin chicks that hatched on several of Maine’s offshore islands this year struggled with storms, predation and food shortages, and most were unlikely to survive.

After near-extirpation from the U.S. during the 1800s, Maine’s puffin population is the only one that’s been re-established in the continental U.S. Linda Welch, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says this year has been their toughest in recent memory.

On Petit Manan, she says, 90% of the nesting puffins failed to produce a chick and some abandoned their nests. Chicks that did hatch and survive to the fledging stage were leaving their rocky island burrows well-below weight.

“And also 40 to 50% smaller than we normally see… And I’ve never seen that before. We were calling them “micro-puffins.” I’ve never seen a bird fledge (when it was) not at the correct size,” Welch says.

For the full story, including audio, visit