A Passion for Puffins – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Passion for Puffins

As a member of the Hobart Crew team, Bob Taylor’ 11 is used to being on the water. This familiarity will be helpful to him as he spends the majority of his summer living on islands 20 miles off the coast of Maine. As an intern for Project Puffin, Taylor will spend more than two months sleeping in tents and getting closer with nature than ever before.

Project Puffin is run in coordination with the Audubon Society, which is an organization that focuses on the conservation of wildlife, particularly birds. Since 1973, Project Puffin has worked to restore and conserve populations of puffins on the islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Taylor, who is working toward a double major in biology and environmental studies, is taking on the role of a research assistant, collecting information about puffin populations. On a daily basis he can be found observing the birds, recording their feeding habits, and banding chicks so that Project Puffin can follow individual birds in the future.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that I’ll be spending most of my summer on an island. It’s going to be interesting to try out what will certainly be a completely different lifestyle from what I’m used to.”

When Taylor came to HWS he knew that he wanted to major in biology but he had no idea what focus he would be interested in. Not coincidentally, his first-year seminar was a course about birds, which is what sparked his interest. His first-year seminar professor and advisor, Mark Deutschlander, helped him decide on his focus within biology and was the person who recommended that he look into the Project Puffin internship.

He owes a lot of his preparation to the various biology courses that he has taken at HWS. Specifically, a course about the biology of invasive species has proven invaluable. The information that he learned in this course will be helpful as he eradicates invasive plants and gulls that have become a nuisance to the puffins and other seabirds.

Taylor is hoping to get a job as a research assistant after graduation and, ultimately, to do research of his own someday. “I guess I’ve become kind of a bird nerd,” he says, “but I’m okay with that.”