In 1974, a tree trimmer at Big Basin Redwoods State Park found the nest of a marbled murrelet 140 feet above the ground at the top of a Douglas fir. Observers in the 1920’s had reported hearing the calls of marbled murrelets at dawn and dusk in inland forest areas. For years ornithologists had wondered where these small seabirds were nesting.
Every spring marbled murrelets leave coastal waters and fly as many as 30 miles inland to nest in old growth trees. Females lay one cryptically colored egg on a mat of lichen or moss on a high tree limb. After their chick hatches, the parents take turns commuting to the ocean everyday, where they spend the entire day diving for fish. They then return to the nest at dusk to feed the chick.
Murrelets are unique sea birds, spending the majority of their lives in saltwater and coming ashore only to nest. They are able to dive to great depths and swim with incredible speed by “flying” underwater with their wings.
Since murrelets nest in old growth forests, they have lost a tremendous amount of their habitat to logging. They are currently listed as threatened by the federal Endangered Species Act.
For more information call Native Animal Rescue at (831) 462-0726.