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OSU Researchers Study Elusive Threatened Seabird

A marbled murrelet takes off from its coastal feeding ground.
Oregon State University
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A marbled murrelet takes off from its coastal feeding ground.

Researchers at Oregon State University have embarked on a long term study of an elusive threatened seabird along the west coast. The goal is find out more about the marbled murrelet to better inform conservation efforts.

A marbled murrelet takes off from its coastal feeding ground.
Credit Oregon State University
/
A marbled murrelet takes off from its coastal feeding ground.

The marbled murrelet is unusual because it is a seabird that nests in coastal forests. Which makes it hard to find.

“We’re looking for a bird that can fly up to 50 miles inland to nest and it does so very cryptically.”

Jim Rivers is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Oregon State University.

 “It flies in fast. It flies in to its nest sites usually under the cover of dawn or dusk. That’s why we have such limited information on the species. It is probably the most challenging bird in North America to study in terms of its breeding behavior.”

Rivers says that makes it difficult to make informed timber policy.

Researchers monitor marbled murrelets.
Credit Oregon State University
/
Researchers monitor marbled murrelets.

Rivers says this year they’ve managed to tag some birds, using boats at night, out in the ocean where murrelets roost. Now, the challenge is to track them at their nest using a combination of ground and aerial crews and drones. The long term project is possible because of increased state funding for OSU's School of Forestry.

 

Copyright 2017 KLCC

Rachael McDonald is News Director at KLCC. She’s been with the station for more than 10 years. Previously, she established the Richland, Washington bureau for the Northwest News Network. She also worked as News Director at KAZU in Monterey, California. Rachael has won numerous awards for her reporting.