Scripp's Murrelet is a "new" species, with the Scripp's and
Guadalupe Murrelet recently split (2012) from what was formerly considered one
species, the Xantus's Murrelet. They are a very uncommon bird, only
found nesting on a handful of islands, as introduced rats and other
disturbances have devastated many former nesting colonies. The
National Park Service is actively removing predator populations on nesting
colony islands in an attempt to increase populations of the Scripp's
Habitat: Found on a few select islands off the
Pacific Coast, using locations with protected nesting sites, such as rocky
crevices or vegetative cover. Outside of the breeding season,
typically found far from the mainland, sometimes close to nesting islands,
but often far out to sea.
Diet: Feeds mostly small fish, but will also feed
on small crustaceans and other small marine creatures.
Behavior: Forages by diving and swimming under the
water in search of food items. Doesn't feed in flocks or by itself, but is
almost always found foraging in pairs.
Nesting: The Scripp's Murrelet doesn't build a
nest. The female lays 2 eggs directly on the ground, typically in a rocky
crevice, under a bush, or in another protected area. Both parents help
to incubate the eggs. Hatchlings typically leave the nest within a day or so
after hatching, often making a perilous leap into the water below.
Once in the water, the parents reunite with the young and feed and tend to
Song: Call of the Scripp's Murrelet is a series of
three to eight, consistent, high-pitched notes.
Migration: Breeds on a few islands off the Pacific
Coast, with most breeding birds found in the Channel Islands off of
California. Non-breeding birds disperse, with most found off the
California or northern Mexican coast, but they will sometimes disperse as
far north as Washington state and British Columbia.
Conservation Status: Populations have been in a
long-term decline. The species has a very small breeding range, and
many former breeding colonies have disappeared, largely due to introduced
predators on nesting islands, such as rats.
The IUCN lists the
Xantus's Murrelet as a "Vulnerable" species. (no separate information on
Scripp's Murrelet available at the time this page was created).