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Puffins on the Rise

SMOOTH SAILING A puffin carrying fish to feed its chicks prepares to land on Eastern Egg Rock, Maine, in August. ROBERT F. BUKATY—AP

Atlantic puffins have made a comeback in Maine. For the second year in a row, more of these seabirds have been able to raise chicks there.

Some 3,000 puffins are living on islands off Maine’s coast. Only a quarter of the birds were able to raise chicks in 2021. That number is now closer to three-quarters.

The good news comes as a surprise. Puffins rely on fish for food. Scientists had expected ocean warming to reduce the number of fish. But there have been plenty of small fish called sand lances for puffins to eat.

Don Lyons is a scientist at the National Audubon Society. He says we can’t always predict how climate change will affect an ecosystem. “This year is a good example of how complex things are,” he says. “We still have a lot to learn.”

Scientists say climate change is still a danger to birds. But for now, Maine’s puffins seem to be thriving. Lyons says, “Likely, the population is stable, and it could still be growing.”

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