Incubating Hope: An Egg Found In Maine Brings New Hope to the Audubon Society


As a child, eggs were special one day of the year: Easter. Back then an egg was a treasure. But since my parents stopped hiding eggs for me, eggs haven’t held much meaning. White and, well, egg-shaped, they help me when I need to make a quick meal or mix up some cookie dough. But that’s about it. For me anyway. For some an egg means everything.

For the first time in over a century, a Common Murre egg has been found south of the Canadian border on the east coast, bringing hope to the hearts of those working to restore the bird to the sub-Canadian region.

Murres, penguin-like birds which spend most of their lives out at sea, have been absent from Maine since 1883. The disappearance is due mostly to hunting and egg collection, but can also be attributed to oil spills and predation. And the vacancy left by the murres has been felt by nature lovers.

The egg was found by an intern working for the National Audubon Society’s Seabird Restoration program on Matinicus Rock, one of 50 islands in Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The intern, Maria Cunha, who noticed two Murres in typical incubating posture. The nest was surrounded by about 50 murre decoys, and artificial eggs, and close to a sound system that emits murre calls to encourage the long-absent birds to establish new nests, all part of Audubon’s restoration efforts.

“We are absolutely elated. This is a small egg, but with a big promise,” said Dr. Stephen Kress, director of the Seabird Restoration Program. “We have high hopes for the successful hatching and fledging of this egg, and for greater numbers of murres in years to come.”

Audubon, along with the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, has spent 17 years trying to bring the Common Murres back to the islands. Whether the recently found egg actually hatches and reaches adulthood or not, its presence signals a small success and a potential reinstitution of murres to Maine.

“Each new colony offers another margin of safety for Common Murres and other seabirds,” said Kress. “The return of the Common Murre to its long-lost nesting grounds shows that conservation works – even against great odds.”

Audubon works tirelessly to help maintain and restore bird populations, which in many cases are dwindling. At least 40 seabird species in 12 countries have benefited from seabird restoration techniques developed by Audubon.

Photo Credit: csp67 via flickr under Creative Commons License

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