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Manx Shearwaters Decide National Wildlife Refuge is Perfect Place to Raise a Chick
Northeast Region, September 8, 2009
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On Tuesday September 8th, biologists visiting Matinicus Rock, an island off mid-coast Maine, discovered a fledgling age Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). While shearwaters were first observed on the island twelve years ago, this is the first time that a Manx Shearwater chick is known to have reached fledging age (age at which a bird leaves its nest) in the United States. The young bird was found by a team of Audubon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers as they checked suspected Manx burrows on the 22-acre island, which already holds the distinction of being Maine's most diverse seabird nesting island.

Located 26 miles south of Rockland, Matinicus Rock is part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge and cooperatively managed by the National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program and the Refuge. The island was also the site, earlier this year, of the first eastern U.S. nesting of Common Murres in more than 100 years.

Manx Shearwaters nest throughout the eastern North Atlantic, especially in Great Britain. These crow-sized albatross relatives have a wingspan of nearly three feet, and are named for their habit of flying low over the water. Studies in Britain indicate that they may live 56 years and travel over five million miles during their long lives. Regular visitors to the western North Atlantic since the 1950's, their breeding was first confirmed in 1973 when a pair produced a chick on Penikese Island in Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, but the outcome of this nesting was not confirmed. In 1977, a second North American and first Canadian breeding record was confirmed on Middle Lawn Island in Newfoundland. The species is not known to have nested in the United States since 1973, but a small population has continued to nest on Middle Lawn Island.



Contact Info: Beth Goettel, 207-594-0600, beth_goettel@fws.gov



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