• Save Our Seabirds - Puffins

Save Our Seabirds - Puffins

During the early part of the 21st Century, puffin numbers on the island of Craigleith halved in four years, halving again for every year after that, crashing to just 3,000 birds in 2006.

Previously one of the largest puffin colonies in the UK, the island had been smothered with tree mallow, an invasive plant that prevented puffins accessing their burrows and, therefore, raising young. Architects of their own downfall, the puffins inadvertently helped the plant to colonise so quickly with their burrowing habits, and a ready supply of nitrogen-rich guano.

Helping the puffins fight back is the SOS Puffin initiative, led by the Scottish Seabird Centre. By enlisting volunteers to manually clear the tree mallow from puffin nesting sites, the group enabled puffins to once again clear burrows for chick rearing. Decoys were used to fool the birds into thinking the island was still a bustling puffin haven, while solar-powered cameras beamed live pictures of the puffins to audiences across the world.

The successful five-year scheme extended to the nearby island, Fidra, helping the puffin re-establish its colonies there too.

For more information

Puffins  (External site, opens in new window)

Puffin webcam

Webcam  (External site, opens in new window)



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