Marbled Murrelet

General description.

Called the "Enigma of the Pacific", the unusual "Marbled Murrelet" is a small seabird that nests high in trees. This habit was suspected, but not documented until a tree-climber found a chick in 1974. This chunky "auk" has a slender black bill and pointed wings. Its plumage varies by season, for instance in breeding season, it has a brown mottled body and face and in winter, the "Marbled Murrelet" has a white neck collar. They dive beneath the ocean's surface and pursue prey underwater.

Flight pattern.

To feed their young, the "Marbled Murrelet" flies at high speeds between feeding sites (protected coastal waters) and breeding sites in coastal forests, sometimes many miles inland.

Breeding habits.

"Marbled Murrelets" do not breed until they are at least 2 years old, and not all mature adults nest every year. Peak activity occurs from mid-June to late July in California, and the second week of July to mid-August in Oregon. "Marbled Murrelets" are semicolonial in nesting habits. Two nests found in Washington were located only 150 feet (46 m) apart.

Calls or song.

These members of the avian family emit three general vocalizations: "keer, kee-or", whistle calls and groan calls, plaintive and whining, sounding like "eeh-eeh".

Population and distribution.

The bird has not been known to wander from the Pacific coast of North America.

Nesting habits.

The female lays one egg on a platform of lichen or moss on the branches of conifers.
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