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Marbled Murrelet

Silhouette AuksAuks
Marbled MurreletBrachyramphus marmoratus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Alcidae

Basic Description

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
image of range map for Marbled Murrelet
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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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.

Other Names

  • Mérgulo Jaspeado Americano (Spanish)
  • Guillemot marbré (French)
  • Cool Facts