OSU Researchers Study Elusive Threatened Seabird

Jul 28, 2017

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

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

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.