The Return of the Puffins

A puffin sits on a rock.
© Nancy Rynes

Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) used to be quite common along the Maine coast until the late 19th century, when hunters killed them to collect their feathers to fill pillows and decorate hats, and eat their eggs and meat. With the puffins gone from Maine, their habitat was taken over by large, bossy gulls, scaring away any puffins that dared to venture too near. But in 1973, a biologist named Stephen Kress began what would become the forty-year Project Puffin to bring puffins back to the Maine coast, where they can be seen today. Read the story of how a few scientists lured puffins back to their former home in Smithsonian Magazine.