Murrelet is a small seabird of the north Pacific coast of North America.
They were one of the last birds in North America to have its nesting grounds
discovered, with the first nest not discovered until 1974. This is due to
their unusual nesting habits in much of their range, where the nest is built
high in the trees of very old-growth forest, sometimes many miles from the
coastline. Their dependence on old-growth forests for nesting has
undoubtedly resulted in declines in the species as logging has felled much
of their preferred nesting habitat. They have been listed as
"threatened" by U.S. Fish and Wildlife since 1992. Serious threats
continue to impact the species.
Habitat: During the summer breeding season, breeds
on mountainous slopes on the coast (typically on islands), or in mature,
old-growth forest, sometimes well inland from the coast. At other
seasons, found on protected waters near the coast.
Diet: Feeds mostly on small fish and crustaceans
such as shrimp and amphipods.
Behavior: Forages by swimming underwater, usually
in relatively shallow water close to shore.
Nesting: The nest of a Marbled Murrelet is usually
a simple depression in mosses and lichens on a sturdy tree branch, or in the
northern portion of their range, the nest may be placed on the ground. Both
males and females will help to incubate the eggs. Upon hatching, both
parents tend to and feed the young.
Song: In flight, gives a screeching gull-like
Migration: Many Marbled Murrelets stay very close
to their summer breeding grounds in all seasons. However, there is
some movement southward in the winter, as well as a greater liklihood that
Marbled Murrelets will be found further from shore.
Similar Species: Non-breeding birds are similar in
appearance to nearly all other Murrelets in non-breeding plumage. In
breeding plumage, most likely to be confused with
Kittlitz's Murrelet and
Conservation Status: Marbled Murrelet are still
common in some areas, but populations have plummeted in recent years.
Habitat loss, vulnerability to oil spills, and the effects of climate change
are significant threats to the species in the future.
IUCN currently lists the Marbled Murrelet as "Endangered".
Photo Information: Photo taken in August, 2010
- Resurrection Bay, off the coast of Seward, Alaska - Terry Sohl