Forty years ago, the National Audubon Society began Project Puffin, an attempt to restore the threatened seabird to its native nesting islands off the coast of Maine.
Today, you can watch their success live on the internet.
From Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, a live video stream shows puffins raising chicks in an underground burrow and hanging out on the rocks. These weatherproof cameras provide an intimate look into the homes and lives of puffins.
“It’s a remarkable setting for cams,” says Steve Kress, director of the Audubon Society’s Seabird Restoration Program, otherwise known as Project Puffin. “This island is so remote that you can’t really see it from the mainland. You have to go on a boat for hours to get to it. The cams show us the world on Seal Island above ground and underground, and this permits us to get new insight into the lives of seabirds.”
Nest cams can also reveal some of nature’s harsh realities: chicks that don’t make it, attacks from predators or even attacks from parent birds.
Last year, for example, on the Osprey camera, a bald eagle swooped down and within seconds snatched the chicks from the nest.
Some people were very upset, but these things happen whether we are seeing them or not, Kress says. “This is predation. Predation happens so quickly. Without predation these predatory birds wouldn’t be able to live.”