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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, unique seabirds that nest in old-growth forests and feed in the Pacific Ocean. Murrelets need large areas of coastal and near coastal old-growth forest for nesting. They avoid fragmented and partially developed forest landscapes.

Unfortunately, proposals released in December 2016 by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fall short in protecting these imperiled seabirds and the habitat they need.

“We have a responsibility to restore old-growth forests and help marbled murrelet populations recover within Washington,” said Dave Werntz, Science and Conservation Director with Conservation Northwest. “We can ensure jobs and wildlife over the long run if we manage our state forests sustainably.”

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.

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. We're working with other conservation groups to ensure that murrelets, and their amazing old forest habitat, get the protections they need! 

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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