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Ancient Murrelet

Synthliboramphus antiquus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: ALCIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Widespread throughout the north Pacific, the Ancient Murrelet nests colonially in burrows or rock crevices. It is the only seabird that raises its young entirely at sea.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
7.9–9.4 in
20–24 cm
Wingspan
17.7–18.1 in
45–46 cm
Weight
5.4–8.8 oz
153–250 g
Other Names
  • Alque a cou blanc (French)

Cool Facts

  • Within a few days of hatching, Ancient Murrelet chicks emerge from their burrows by night and follow their parents to sea. The parents fly to the water, and the chicks follow, finding their parents by their voices among throngs of other Ancient Murrelets.
  • Ancient Murrelet parents do not feed their chicks until they have emerged from their burrows and reached the sea.
  • Mated Ancient Murrelets alternate shifts in incubating eggs. The shifts are usually three days long, and may last as long as six days.

Habitat


Ocean

Mostly pelagic; nests along rocky seacoasts in crevices, under rocks, and in burrows in the ground.

Food


Fish

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down, can walk, but stays in nest.
Nest Placement

Burrow

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives underwater to capture prey, using its wings to swim.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Introduced mammals, including foxes and raccoons, can have severe negative impacts on Ancient Murrelet colonies. Removal programs have led to rapid recovery in some cases, but repeated recolonization by raccoons remains the most pressing conservation issue for Ancient Murrelets in British Columbia.

Credits

  • Gaston, A. J. 1994. Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus). In The Birds of North America, No. 132 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

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Ancient Murrelet Range Map
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