Decoys Encourage Atlantic Puffins to Return to Calf of Man

Led by their plastic brethren, a Atlantic Puffins, vulnerable to extinction, make a slow return to their native home.

Extirpated by invasive rats before the turn of the century, Atlantic Puffins have not bred on the Calf of Man since 1985. Conservationists are now using social attraction and decoy Puffins to encourage the native seabirds to return to their home.

A proud Puffin displaying its fresh catch. Credit: Ian Preston

Due to the invasive rat population on their island, along with anthropological threats to their existence, the IUCN Red List has categorized the Atlantic Puffin as vulnerable to extinction. In 2012 conservationists endeavored to reduce the invasive rat population and restore the island for Puffins and other seabirds.

Now that the island is once again safe for nesting, species such as the Manx Shearwater are returning. A survey led by the Bird Observatory calculated that Manx Shearwater populations have risen from 348 pairs in 2013 to over 500 pairs in 2018. Conservationists see this as a sign of hope and have initiated a social attraction project to call Puffins back to the island.  

Decoys were places in historic nesting sites and sound systems were installed to emit puffin calls and draw them to the island. So far, a few Puffins have been observed on the island and conservationists are hopeful this trend will continue.

A Puffin on its perch. Credit: David Nunn

Our volunteers report seeing more puffins on the sea surrounding the Calf so we think we are having an effect”

Edmund Southworth, Manx National Heritage

The breeding season begins in late April and ends in July, when they return to the ocean for the remainder of the year. Upon their departure, the decoy puffins are stowed away until the next year’s breeding season. In the coming years, conservationists are hopeful that the removal of invasive rats will ultimately make way for a thriving population of Atlantic Puffins.

Source: The Telegraph
Featured Image: Atlantic Puffin perched on a cliff with fresh catch. Credit: Dany Sternfeld

About Nicholas Scott

Nick is an undergraduate Marine Biology student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Having spent his life exploring the ocean on California’s coast, he developed a passion and respect for it, that demanded him to pursue his interest in conservation. Volunteering for the communications team allows him to further his interests and gain more insight as to how to resolve the state of the world around us. In his spare time, Nick enjoys surfing, swimming, and spending time with friends.

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