Marbled Murrelets are one of the most common birds on the water here in Southeast Alaska. They are common enough that despite paying little attention to birds when I was young, I still was aware of them (though I never bothered to learn their names at the time). Sometimes I see them skipping across the water as they gain enough speed to take flight, but most often they tip forward and dive into the water upon the approach of a boat. In the summer they mostly look like small dark birds when they are seen on the water. It was only after I recently got a better photo of them in summer plumage that I could see the richer rufous browns in the feathers of their back.
I’ve written previously about my experience with Marbled Murrelets and their interesting life history. Since that time, researchers studying dippers found one or two nests near Juneau. The nest(s) was on the ground adjacent to a waterfall. A 2014 publication of a study at Port Snettisham found that about half the observed nest sites were on the ground and the other half were in trees (with the tree nesting sites being more likely to be successful).
- Are Marbled Murrelets nesting on the slopes near town?
- It’s known that murrelets may travel a long distance from feeding grounds to nest sites – are the birds out on the sound mostly nesting locally?
- How many murrelets are nesting in the area?