- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Alcidae
A seabird that’s also a forest bird, the Marbled Murrelet fishes along the foggy Pacific Coast, then flies inland to nest in mossy old-growth trees. Mottled in milk-chocolate brown during the summer, adults change into stark black and white for winter. These stocky little birds dive for zooplankton and fish using their wings to “fly” underwater. Because they rely on old-growth trees for nesting, logging is a threat to their numbers. Though still numerous in Alaska, they are listed as Threatened in Washington, Oregon, and California.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Because they feed fairly close to shore, Marbled Murrelets can be fairly easy to find, particularly where they are more numerous, such as on the Olympic Peninsula and in British Columbia and Alaska. Look for them in places with strong tidal rips, such as near rivermouths, or just beyond the kelp line, and scan for a small, stubby bird with a thin bill tilted upward. A spotting scope is ideal to see details of plumage and behavior.
- Mérgulo jaspeado americano (Spanish)
- Guillemot marbré (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Marbled Murrelet usually nests in trees 200 years old or older. in age; no other North American member of the auk family (Alcidae) nests in trees.
- Though the Marbled Murrelet was first described in 1789, its nest remained undiscovered until 1974. In the 1950s and 1960s, loggers found adults, young and eggs in felled trees in British Columbia, prompting scientists to begin looking for nests in forests.
- The Marbled Murrelet was once known as the "Australian Bumble Bee" by fishermen and as the "fogbird" or "fog lark" by loggers and fishermen. These nicknames reflect the bird’s foggy coastal habitat, its frequent calling even at sea, and plump shape and whirring wings in flight.
- The oldest known Marbled Murrelet was at least 10 years old when it was recaptured during a long-term study of nesters in British Columbia in June 2006.