Marbled Murrelet

Brachyramphus marmoratus
marbled murrelets turn black and white during winter months/USFWS Photo

Nesting high up in the old-growth conifers of the Pacific Coast, these small seabirds were one of the last North American birds to have their nests discovered. Marbled murrelets are strongly tied to a narrow strip of land and water along the West Coast, usually nesting within 30 miles of the ocean and foraging at sea within three miles of the coastline. These birds face a variety of threats--logging, gill-net mortality, nest predation and oil spills--and have experienced dramatic recent population declines. Learn more about forest conservation efforts at the refuge… 

Marbled murrelets are small, puffin-like birds with short bills, long wings, and short tails. Adults in breeding plumage are brown overall, with the head and upper parts darker brown and the under parts mottled lighter brown. In contrast, adults in non-breeding plumage are a mixture of black, white, and gray with black heads, white collars, white under parts, grayish backs, extensive white on the sides of the rump, and black wings.

Marbled murrelets are strictly birds of the Pacific Coast of North America. These birds nest in a narrow range along the Pacific Ocean, from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska south through British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, to central California. Marbled murrelets are generally found in nearshore waters (within about three miles of shore) near their nesting sites on a year-round basis, although in certain places in Alaska and British Columbia, birds move to more protected waters during the winter. This species can also be found wintering south of its breeding range, along the coast of southern California to extreme northwestern Baja California. 

Watch a video about the Mysterious Marbled Murrelet…

Facts About Marbled Murrelet

A sea bird that nests in old growth trees

First nest was found in the 1974

Built for flying underwater