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MARBLED MURRELET } Brachyramphus marmoratus

RANGE: Limited to the Pacific coastline of North America between California and Alaska

STATUS: Listed as Endangered by the state of California, and as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The IUCN considers this species Endangered.

THREATS: Logging, development of forested nesting habitat, oil spills, gill-net fishing

The marbled murrelet is an oddity of a seabird. Seabirds usually raise their young in large colonies on rocky outcroppings, but this small, plump bird prefers to build its nest high in the boughs of ancient trees. Sometimes nesting 150 feet above the ground, the marbled murrelet depends on old-growth forests with trees more than 200 years old to raise its young. At sea, the murrelet dives underwater to catch sea eels and small fish, using its wings to swim. But oil spills and gill-net fishing make the ocean a dangerous place for this bird to make a living, while its home is being destroyed by logging of old-growth forests.

Photo by Rich MacIntosh, USGS