Puffins in the USA

Puffins back in Maine Atlantic puffins had nearly vanished from the Maine coast until a young biologist defied conventional wisdom to lure them home

Atlantic puffins were once a common sight along the Maine coast. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries people collected eggs from puffins and other seabirds for food, a practice memorialized in the names of Eastern Egg Rock and other islands off the coast of New England. Hunters shot the plump birds for meat and for feathers to fill pillows and adorn women’s hats.

By 1901, only a single pair of Atlantic puffins was known to nest in the United States—on Matinicus Rock, a barren island 20 miles from the Maine coast. Wildlife enthusiasts paid the lighthouse keeper to protect the two birds from hunters.  Things began to change in 1918, when the Migratory Bird Treaty Act banned the killing of many wild birds in the United States. Slowly, puffins returned to Matinicus Rock.

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