Purple Martins
Bald Eagles
Habitat Restoration
Marbled Murrelets

Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are Threatened in British Columbia and throughout most of their range in the western United States. Marbled Murrelets are a coastal marine alcid bird species that depends on old growth forest for nesting habitat, which has become scarce on Vancouver Island. The loss of nesting habitat through logging of old growth forests is identified as the primary threat to this species, along with mortality due to entanglement in gill-nets and oil spills.

Marbled murrelets are currently present and nesting in small patches of remnant old growth forest in the Victoria-Sooke area, along the South Nanaimo River, at Englishman River Falls Park, and southwest of Duncan. Our studies in 1998 and 1999 showed that there were at least 200 breeding birds present off Nanaimo.

    In 2001, GBEARS initiated a Marbled Murrelet radio tagging project in the Georgia Basin area off Nanaimo. Hours of tracking Marbled Murrelets offshore at night resulted in few contacts with the birds. Ongoing daytime shoreline surveys showed that Marbled Murrelets continue to feed off the coast of Vancouver Island.

    GBEARS also helped track murrelets that were radio-tagged at Desolation Sound and Clayoquot Sound in the CWS-Simon Fraser University Marbled Murrelet Study. A plane outfitted with radio tracking equipment was used and surveys were flown over the Strait of Georgia, Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Vancouver Island south into Puget Sound, WA, and along the outer WA coast. A number of adult and just-fledged juvenile birds were located, including several nesting adults regularly crossing between the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island to feed and gather food offshore to carry back several times a day to their single nestling hidden deep in the ancient forest! This is the first record of murrelets moving between the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island on a daily basis during the breeding season.

For more information, visit our Marbled Murrelet Links.

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Last modified: 02/02/09