A bird rarely seen in Maine has been sighted off the coast, according to a pair of birding experts.

The tufted puffin was sighted by seabird biologists in June on Petit Manan, an island 2.5 miles off the coast of Steuben in Washington County, according to a Natural Resources Council of Maine blog. The bird was then sighted on Machias Seal Island, about 10 miles off Cutler. The last sighting took place in July in Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge – about 21 miles off Rockland.

A tufted puffin. Photo by Sarah Bierschwale of Natural Resources Council of Maine

Jeffrey and Allison Wells of the natural resources council wrote about the sightings in their blog “Birding with Jeff and Allison, Nature of Maine Blog,” posted on NRCM’s Facebook page. Jeff Wells works for the National Audubon Society and Allison Wells for NRCM.

The species’ normal breeding range extends from the coast of northern California to the coast of northern Alaska, across to the coast of Russia, and south to northern Japan.

Jeffrey Wells, in a telephone interview Wednesday evening, said it is unclear why the tufted puffin is in Maine. The bird most likely arrived by way of the Northwest Passage route through the Canadian Arctic, he said.

Tufted puffins are distinctive. They have an all black body, spiffy orange bill, and golden tufts. Anyone who spots the bird should try to get a photograph for documentation purposes, Wells said.

“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. What is the bird doing here?” Wells said.

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