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Marbled murrelet

These small, shy seabirds breed in the Pacific Northwest's coastal old-growth forests and feed in the Pacific Ocean. Murrelets prefer large areas of old growth for nesting on flattened sprays of big branches; they avoid fragmented and partially developed forest landscapes.

Marbled murrelet. Photo by USFWS

Brachyramphus marmoratus

Marbled murrelets – small, shy seabirds that nest in old-growth forests and feed in the Pacific Ocean. Murrelets prefer large areas of coastal and near coastal old-growth forest. They avoid fragmented and partially developed forest landscapes.

Murrelets have declined by almost 30% since 1992. That's steep. Despite federal public land protections, in Washington State murrelets' old-growth habitat has declined by 10%.

In 1992, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed marbled murrelet as a threatened species in Washington, Oregon, and California in response to steep declines in the abundance and distribution of their old-growth habitat. Murrelets face other threats: nest predation by crows and ravens, and reduced quantity and quality of the fish they prey on from changing ocean conditions.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is currently writing a conservation strategy for murrelets and old growth; to help prepare the strategy, they took public comment until July 2013.

Conserving old growth protects murrelets and hundreds of other species of wildlife. The Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests help mitigate climate change by storing more carbon than most other forests in the world.

Amazing avian

  • The marbled murrelet is a small seabird along the Pacific Northwest Coast with a slender black bill and plumage that varies in color by season.
  • Murrelets eat sand eels, herring, shiner perch, and more.
  • Unlike most other seabirds, marbled murrelets are solitary; they do not form dense colonies.
  • Murrelets are known to travel up to 50 miles inland to a nest tree, selecting old, craggy-topped conifers.
  • Murrelets lay a single egg on natural, moss-covered platforms where large branches join the tree trunks of old growth Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and redwood trees.
  • Murrelets video
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