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Kittlitzs Murrelet

Brachyramphus brevirostris
Adult KIMU
Rare and mysterious, the Kittlitz's murrelet is one of the least-studied seabirds in North America. The small, plump bird is related to puffins and murres, and is similar in plumage to the Marbled murrelet. All of the North American and most of the world population of Kittlitz’s murrelets breed, molt, and winter in Alaska. They prefer to nest in remote sites, most typically on glaciers, but also on rocky alpine slopes and occasionally cliff faces. As a result, they are incredibly difficult to study, and little is known about their nesting ecology, habitat, and overall population. However, biologists are concerned that their numbers appear to be declining across Alaska. 

This species was first discovered nesting within the boundaries of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in 2006 when a botanist working on a remote mountain stumbled upon a large downy chick in a nest on the southwest region of Kodiak Island. A nesting ecology study has been in progress since 2008; to learn more about the research, visit our reports in the Science section.

For a fun photo story about a summer in the life of a Kittlitz's murrelet chick, please check out Life on the Rocks: A Nest Story, sharing a series of photos collected by remote cameras from the nesting ecology research study.

For a general overview of Kittlitz's murrelets in Alaska, see the following profile.

Facts About Kittlitzs Murrelet

Family: Alcidae
Feeding Behavior: Surface dive
Nesting Behavior: Solitary
Diet: fish, invertebrates, macroplankton
Breeding: May-August
Estimated Alaska Population: 30,900 - 56,800
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2017
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