New Study: Threatened Northwest Seabird Numbers Drop 30 Percent

Dec. 21, 2012 | OPB
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Amelia Templeton

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  • The marbled murrelet has been listed as threatened since 1992 under the Endangered Species Act. It spends most of its life at sea, but nests in coastal Northwest forests. credit: US Forest Seervice
The marbled murrelet has been listed as threatened since 1992 under the Endangered Species Act. It spends most of its life at sea, but nests in coastal Northwest forests. | credit: US Forest Seervice | rollover image for more

The population of a reclusive Northwest sea bird has declined by about a third in just 10 years. That’s according to a new federal study of the marbled murrelet.

The murrelet is a relative of the puffin that nests in coastal old growth forest.

Trained observers on boats off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and California tallied the number of murrelets they saw each summer, for 10 years.

The threatened seabird’s population declined by a grim 30 percent. The declines were most dramatic off the Washington coast.

“At this rate, we can expect to see it go extinct. The species is rapidly declining across most of its range,” said the American Bird Conservancy’s Steve Holmer.

The study pointed to two factors likely responsible for the shrinking murrelet population, in spite of conservation efforts.

The continued shortage of old growth forests for them to nest in. And jays and crows pushing deeper into the forest and eating murrelet eggs.

© 2012 OPB
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