By: PATRICK WHITTLE, Associated Press
Updated: Nov 27, 2017 - 4:02 PM
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Puffins face existential challenges, but the little birds found a new role in Maine this summer: baby boomers.
The 2017 nesting season was the most productive on record for a group of vulnerable Maine puffins, scientists with the Audubon Society said. The Atlantic puffins are small seabirds with an awkward walk and colorful beaks that are popular with eco-tourists.
The birds are at the southern edge of their breeding range in Maine, and the Eastern Egg Rock colony in Muscongus Bay is the subject of much study. Audubon reported that the colony increased from 150 to 172 pairs during this year's nesting season.
That is the highest single-year increase since puffins recolonized the little island in 1981, said Steve Kress, a biologist and vice president for bird conservation with Audubon.
"It was an excellent year," Kress said. "There's a reason to be happy, and a reason to be concerned because there still is a long-term trend toward warming waters."