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A Marbled Murrelet Fledges from Big Basin

The Mysterious Murrelet

Listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1992, the marbled murrelet is a rare and elusive seabird, under threat by oil spills, unsustainable fishing, and onshore habitat loss. Marbled murrelets are small and chunky—they’re often described as a flying potato with a beak. For more than half the year, birds sport greyish feathers with black-dipped wings and heads; during breeding season, adults turn a mottled brown. Marbled murrelets fly over the redwoods at dawn and at dusk—en route to the ocean to catch fish, or to their hidden nests, often found in complex old-growth redwood canopies. Learn more about the marvels and mystery of the marbled murrelet.

A Remarkable Discovery

Murrelet habitat was feared to be decimated by the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex wildfires, as many crown fires among old-growth coast redwoods and Douglas fir trees cleared out canopies of their protective cover. But in July 2021, deep in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a researcher happened upon a murrelet nest. What happened next had never been caught on film before. Watch:

Posted compliments of © Frans Lanting /

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