Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yaquina Head: Common Murre nesting colony

Common MurreYaquina Head, Newport, Oregon on 17 July 2010 by Greg Gillson.

 

There were about 25,000 Common Murres surveyed in 1988 at Yaquina Head, north of Newport, Oregon. Today, over 80,000 murres nest here, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the vast majority on Colony Rock, west of the lighthouse. This is more than the total number of nesting murres in British Columbia and Washington State combined.

Other common nesting seabirds at Yaquina Head include Brandt's Cormorant, Western Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, and Glaucous-winged Gull.

Common MurreCommon Murre carrying fish to nestling on Yaquina Head, Newport, Oregon on 17 July 2010 by Greg Gillson.

 

This past weekend I led a nearshore pelagic trip past Yaquina Head and had opportunity to view Common Murres at close range at sea. Many of the murres were ferrying fish back and forth to their single nestlings. Some of the fish brought back were quite small, indicating that the chicks are still small. This bird above, though, has quite a large fish, so its offspring might be larger.

According to published data, when about 25 days old, chicks about 20-25% of the adult's weight go to sea with the male parent. Chick/parent pairs are seen typically by late June or early July. Since we didn't see any chicks at sea, I wonder if the nesting season is a bit delayed this year?

Common MurreCommon Murre, Newport, Oregon on 17 July 2010 by Greg Gillson.

 

Similar to Thick-billed Murres of more northerly waters, Common Murres have several slight differences visible at sea. For one, Common Murres have black bars along their white flanks, as clearly seen in the photo above.

Common MurreCommon Murre, Newport, Oregon on 17 July 2010 by Greg Gillson.

 

2 comments:

  1. Your Common Murre is a stunner, wow what perfection. We visited Yaquina Head in 1994 and all along the Oregon coast, what beauty you have there~

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  2. Beautiful shot of the murre carrying the fish.

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