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Marbled Murrelet


IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered

A chunky Pacific seabird, the Marbled Murrelet is unique among alcids (puffin relatives) in nesting high up in large trees in coastal forests. Little-known until the past few decades, it now is thought to be seriously threatened by logging.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
9.4–9.8 in
24–25 cm
9.1–12.6 oz
258–357 g
Other Names
  • Guillemot marbré (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Marbled Murrelet usually nests in trees greater than 200 years in age.
  • Though the Marbled Murrelet was first described in 1789, a nest site of the species was first discovered and formally documented only in 1974. The egg, however, was known in 1898, when a bird was shot that contained a complete egg in its oviduct.
  • The Marbled Murrelet was once known as the "Australian Bumble Bee" by fishermen and as the "fogbird" or "fog lark" by loggers.
  • The oldest known Marbled Murrelet was at least 10 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in British Columbia.



Breeds in coniferous forests near coasts, nesting on large horizontal branches high up in trees. Winters at sea.




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



Surface Dive

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


status via IUCN


There is little information on Marbled Murrelet population trends, but they appear to be a species in decline. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental breeding population of 300,000-800,000 birds, rates the species a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of High Concern. Populations of Marbled Murrelet in Washington, Oregon, and California, are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Logging and development of forested nesting habitat are considered the greatest threats to this species. Significant portions of nesting areas have already been lost. Oil spills and entanglement in gill-nets are also major risks.


Range Map Help

Marbled Murrelet Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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