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Avian Management

Cormorant and MurresMore than 400 species of breeding and migrant birds have been tallied at Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

By 1975, cats and rabbits had been eliminated from Southeast Farallon Island to protect seabird nesting areas. Although over 400 species of birds have been identified on the island; the island is truly a seabird colony. In fact the Farallons are the largest nesting colony south of Alaska.  Over 250,000 birds of 13 species nest on the refuge’s 211 acres. Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets, California and Western Gulls, Pigeon Guillemots, Ashy and Leach's Storm-petrels, Tufted Puffins, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers, and Brandt's, Double-crested, and Pelagic Cormorants all nest the islands.

Biologist Monitoring SeabirdsBiologists on the refuge monitor population levels and breeding success of nesting seabirds each summer. They monitor diet by collecting samples and by observing feeding from blinds. Western gulls are notorious for defending their territories, killing any bird that strays too close including the chicks of neighbors. They also readily attack biologists who have to wear hard hats and rain gear in the summer for protection.

While the seabird season winds down in August, the land bird migration is gearing up. Of the 400 birds identified on the island, many are land birds that have not been sighted anywhere else in California. In the fall, biologists net and band birds before sending them on their way. The few trees located on the island act as bird magnets and help biologists sight and capture the birds. Most of these trees grow on the leeward side of the two houses on the island, providing biologists with outstanding birding from the inside of the house. 

A complete bird list is available at the US Geological Survey website.

Page Photo Credits — Biologist Monitoring Seabirds/Catherine Frock
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2013
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