Yesterday was my first survey day working for Oregon State University. I’d be remiss not to admit that I’ve been looking forward to this stage of my internship for months; what is more exhilarating than watching Bald eagles swipe up Common murres from immense offshore rocks that are constantly slapped by a raging ocean? I’m sure many people could come up with many answers to this question, but for me biology in action is my kryptonite. The best part about it: all of this “bird creeping” is done from the top of the tallest light house on the Oregon coast.

Yes, now I’m just showing off.

Anways: the study is on Common murre breeding success, a highly detailed and long-term report on the condition of Common murres in face of environmental change and new disturbances from a resurged Bald eagle population and the intrusion of Gulls, Crows, Turkey Vultures, and Brown pelicans. My first week in Oregon the leading scientist gave me some literature to read up on the study. Meanwhile, I also had opportunities to hear him address birding clubs about other projects he’s involved in. It’s a huge privilege to work with him; his research holds implications for issues such as climate change, renewable energy, and wildlife management. While my task in his work is menial, it’s incredible to be able to contribute to the depth of his analysis: I will spend about 12-16 hours a week watching Common murre colonies for evidence of mating pairs, brooding, and fledging chicks, all while recording data on predator disturbances. These findings will be compared with data on oceanic conditions of the season and discussed within the framework of recent climatic events indicative of climate change.

Better yet–the other technicians are super nice, knowledgeable, and are also thoroughbred bird nerds. Next week, I’ll start to go out with them to the lighthouse on a consistent basis and conduct the summer leg of my surveys on the Common brooding season. Thank you, EFTA, for granting me the opportunity to constantly geek out this summer!

Next week: An Eagle Strikes Again

Bird on!

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