Marbled murrelets are not as famous as they should be.
There are a few reasons for that. They’re mysterious and secretive. Their habitat is super niche. They’re not visually striking or ubiquitous.
Sure, they’ve got charisma (they resemble tiny penguins!) but the marbled murrelet’s brand recognition limps far behind such aviary icons as the loon or eagle.
But don’t be fooled by their b-list celebrity status.
They’ve got a lot going for them, really. In fact, marbled murrelets have garnered a cult following among environmentalists in the Pacific Northwest.
They’re what’s known as old-growth obligates. And that is the key to their power.
One example of that power can be found right here, on the Sunshine Coast.
Thirty years ago a small group of volunteers spent years trying to do the near-impossible – find a nest actively used by a pair of the birds.
The outcome of their efforts resonates to this day.
Paul Jones wrote The Marbled Murrelets of the Caren Range and Middlepoint Bight
Maria Mudd Ruth wrote Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet
Learn more about Kim Nelson’s contributions to the study of marbled murrelets
Marbled murrelets are also linked to Clayoquot Sound protests
Coast News story about marbled murrelets and the Caren Range
More about Volker Bahn’s research
Alan Burger’s contributions to the study of marbled murrelets
Marbled murrelet field recordings by Thomas G. Sander from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
3-Square-Miles is a documentary produced by Suzanne Wilson for Coast Cable 11
Varied thrush sound effect by BBC Sound Effects
Special thanks to Dr. Alan Burger and Steve Sleep for research and archival help
Rachel Sanders, Lorna Richards and Sean Eckford assisted with story
Website and graphics by Laura Service