Bowdoin Professor Chuck Huntington

Charles (Chuck) Huntington arrived at Bowdoin in 1954, just after Gross’ retirement from the College in 1953. He served as director of the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island for 34 years, and his study of the population of Leach’s Storm Petrels on the island is one of the longest running scientific studies undertaken. Huntington identified and banded hundreds of birds in order to study their breeding patterns and reproductive success.

“I got interested in Leach’s Storm Petrels when I first came to Kent Island, and there really wasn’t very much known about them,” he said. “In 1955 I started numbering the Petrel’s burrows so I could come back and check on them.”

While on the faculty at Bowdoin, Huntington spent a few weeks each summer on Kent Island. When he arrived, there was no true student program set up on the island.

“I had to get it going,” he said.

Huntington’s research and observations of storm petrels continued up until very recently, only petering out over the past year or two. Now in his 90s, Huntington still occasionally makes the long trip to Kent Island.

“Even last year I went and checked on a burrow,” he said. That burrow, incidentally, was burrow number one, which had been continuously occupied since Huntington began his research.

Huntington began keeping lists of the birds he saw around his childhood home in New Haven, Connecticut when he was 11 years old, but he was interested in birds even before then. He said that he just “became more methodical” in his observations at around his 11th birthday.

Huntington maintained a relationship with Alfred Gross, the ornithologist before him, up until Gross passed away in 1970.

“I enjoyed going birding with him,” he said.