Bird of the Week, July 26, 2013
Scripps's Murrelet


 

Scripps's Murrelet by Peter La Tourrette

 

The Scripps's Murrelet is a newly recognized species, a split from the population of Xantus's Murrelet once known as the "northern" race. Xantus's Murrelet was split into Scripps’s and Guadalupe Murrelets in 2012 based on a lack of evidence of interbreeding, differences in facial pattern and bill shape, and differences in vocalizations and genetics.

 

These small seabirds are only about the size of an American Robin. They spend most of their lives on the open ocean where they feed, often in pairs, using their wings to propel themselves underwater in pursuit of small fish and crustaceans. Adults visit their nests only by night. Chicks hatch fully feathered and well-developed, and leave the nest for the open ocean at two days old, navigating down steep slopes and cliffs to reunite with their parents in the water.

 

Scripps's Murrelet is threatened by oil spills, since most of its population live near busy shipping lanes. A single oil spill could spell catastrophe for the species. They are also threatened on their nesting grounds by introduced species such as rats and feral cats, although this threat has been lessened by efforts to remove introduced predators from its habitat.

 

You can help the Scripps’s Murrelet and other island-nesting birds by supporting our fundraising challenge, which launched this spring and is now drawing to a close. We urgently need your support to conserve nesting islands and other critical bird habitats.

 

 


 

 

 

Photo by Peter La Tourrette; Range Map, ABC