San Francisco Bay NWR Complex
Pacific Southwest Region

The Murre Maniac
The Common Murre Project Update June 2009

Eggs and Chicks!


Common Murre Holding Salmon in Bill
FWS photo
Common Murre with Salmon

June has been an eventful month on Devil’s Slide Rock. The murres in our study plots have laid 154 eggs since the beginning of the breeding season. Unfortunately, most of the eggs have been lost or abandoned. Western Gulls and Common Ravens have been swooping down and grabbing the abandoned eggs that are lying in piles on the rock. We are not sure why so many murres have lost their eggs. It may mean that the murres are traveling very far to find prey. Murres primarily eat fish, krill and squid. They use their wings to “fly” underwater to depths of 180 meters. They are skilled hunters that sneak up on schooling fish from below. Murres travel as far as 80 km from the colony in search of prey. Common Murre holding salmon in bill.

The first murre chick was seen on 20 June 2009 and there are now 6 chicks in the plots. We are still waiting for more eggs to hatch. The Pelagic Cormorant’s that are nesting on the mainland cliffs are hatching chicks. We currently have 15 nests with chicks. After they hatch they are so small and helpless that all they can do is raise their heads. At first, these chicks do not have any feathers at all. They must be guarded very carefully from the weather by their parents. When they are hungry the chicks raise their heads and wave it from side to side, begging for food. They feed by putting their heads into their parent’s mouth to eat a tasty treat of regurgitated fish. Yum!

June 2009 Colony Counts of
Devil's Slide Rock
Date #Murres   Date #Murres
June 1
June 16
June 2
June 18
June 4
June 20
June 6
June 22
June 8
June 24
June 10
June 26
June 12
June 28
June 14
June 30

*Compiled by Lisa Eigner


Last updated: September 1, 2011