State considers conservation options for marbled murrelet – Skagit Valley Herold

Some of the marbled murrelet habitat is in western Jefferson County. 

The state Department of Natural Resources is reviewing conservation plan options for the marbled murrelet, a seabird that is found along the state’s coast, including several bays on Skagit County’s shoreline. The state agency worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft five strategies to conserve the bird’s habitat. The options would protect between 594,000 and 734,000 acres of land managed by Natural Resources. The marbled murrelet is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it is likely to become endangered. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction – Birdnote

Interesting ideas. Might be of use here in the Sound.

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio recordings of birdcalls. Using these, scientists can entice bird colonies out of harm’s way. These Atlantic Puffins represent another successful use of social attraction: Kress and his team established new colonies of puffins on the coast of Maine! (BirdNote)

Jefferson County Dems Adopt Marbled Murrelet Resolution

The Jefferson County Democrats adopted, on Tuesday, a resolution urging the Board of Natural Resources to adopt the strongest of the alternatives it is considering for protection of marbled murrelet habitat. As a federally listed threatened species, the murrelet is protected on federal lands, but not on private lands. The bird has been protected on state trust lands under an interim conservation strategy since 1997, years before most research on the murrelet’s ecological requirements took place.

“The state’s own scientists showed in 2008 that this threatened species is still declining because of our logging practices,” said Bruce Cowan, Chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. “If this species is going to survive, we can’t just keep cutting the trust lands where these birds nest.”

The meeting followed a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen of the Murrelet Survival Project. Not until 1974 did scientists discover that, unlike any other seabird, the murrelet nests in forests, flying as far as fifty miles inland to nest on large branches high in old growth forests. Breeding pairs switch places daily, with one parent feeding on small fish while the other incubates their single egg.

The Washington State Board of Natural Resources is currently considering five alternatives for habitat protection on state trust lands. According to Shmelzlen, only Alternative E responds to the 2008 Science Report, developed by researchers for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The issue of murrelet habitat conservation has been contentious. In 2013, the courts halted a DNR approved harvest of 12,000 acres of timber in Southwest Washington. The Forest Resources Council, an advocate for the timber industry, was unsuccessful in its attempt to have the murrelet de-listed as a threatened species.

“We’ve waited long enough for action,” said Cowan. “Adopting a clear policy based on the 2008 Science Report will make it easier for DNR to do its work. With fewer lawsuits, the flow of timber revenues to state and local governments will be more predictable,” said Cowan. “The set aside is not huge, and it could save a species from extinction.”

Wintering species are arriving – Coast Reporter

Another low cost bit of entertainment for the weekend. Head to the beach, wetlands, lakes or estuaries and check out the winter birds now arriving. Here’s a report from the BC Sunshine Coast, which gets a lot of the same birds as us. Worth a trip up if you are looking to get away. While Pender Harbour is a long way from the Peninsula, the ferries to the Island are usually easier to get on with short notice this time of year.

The Sunshine Coast has four well-defined birding seasons, and we are now well into the fall season as our common wintering species begin to arrive for their winter residency. The most obvious of these species are Barrow’s goldeneyes and buffleheads, which return in huge numbers from their freshwater breeding lakes all across interior and northern Canada. As the interior water bodies begin to freeze over, the ducks return to the balmy waters of the Salish Sea to winter. Joe Harrison reported the first Barrow’s goldeneyes of the winter on Oct. 18 at Oyster Bay, Pender Harbour, one day later than last year. Tony Greenfeld writes. (Coast Reporter)

Little seabird’s advocates hope protection plan is near – Seattle Times

The Marbled Murrelet has been at the center of one of the most contentious environmental controversy’s in this country’s history, along with the spotted owl. The battle to save this small bird, has focused on it’s habitat, the shrinking world of old growth timber. There likely are other causes, from dwindling food sources in our warming oceans, pollution at sea and other issues, but the old growth battle has been intense. It went to court last year in an unsuccessful attempt to set aside larger tracts of timber. Here’s an update from the Seattle Times.

In 1992, a small, speedy seabird called the marbled murrelet was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Its home — the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest — had dwindled, leaving it few places to nest. Twenty-three years later, the population of the bird has continued to decline. By some counts, its numbers are 50 percent lower than they were a decade ago. … The Murrelet Survival Project, which started last August, is pressuring the state and federal governments to come up with a long-term conservation plan, aimed at increasing the murrelet’s nesting habitat. Miguel Otarola reports. (Seattle Times)

Read the whole story and subscribe to the Times. Keep journalism local.

Pacific Coast sea bird die-off puzzles scientists – Statesman Journal via Seattle Times

Hundreds of young birds are washing up on coastal beaches, dead of what may be starvation. Although it’s grim news, there’s some belief it could be a natural event. My wonder is with changes to the ocean due to global warming, could a lack of food be affecting a lot more than just these? Say, also whales? Read the whole story at

Scientists are trying to figure out what’s behind the deaths of seabirds that have been found by the hundreds along the Pacific Coast since October. Mass die-offs of the small, white-bellied gray birds known as Cassin’s aucklets have been reported from British Columbia to San Luis Obispo, California. (

State of the Birds Report: Conservation Works, but There’s More Work to Do – Cornell Lab of Ornithology


This week, the Cornell Lab and partners released the 2014 State of the Birds Report. The report commemorates Martha, the world’s last Passenger Pigeon, whose tragic passing 100 years ago spurred the creation of the world’s greatest conservation movement.

In the last century we’ve saved Wood Ducks and Bald Eagles, Kirtland’s Warblers and Brown Pelicans, and more. The new report offers the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever, identifying a Watch List of 228 high-concern species as well as 33 Common Birds in Steep Decline to begin conserving now. See the full report and download the lists.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 387 other followers

%d bloggers like this: