Yesterday we held the day-long chick activity watch at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
What does that mean?
Over the course of the day, several volunteers and the members of the Seabird Oceanography Lab monitored the Common Murre chicks in the remaining plot of the research study. Early in the day before we began our observation, Stephanie Loredo (prior EFTA intern, now graduate student) and I explained to the students in the Ecology of Marine Estuary & Seabirds class at Oregon State University about our study. My monitoring shift was from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., and during this time we saw some chicks being fed, mates exchanging shifts, and just an overload of cuteness. The murre chicks are quite adorable! We expect these birds to fledge in the upcoming days. During this process, the male parent calls for the chick to jump off the rocks and into the water to accompany him. Unfortunately, the location of our plot will make it difficult for the murre chicks to make it to the water, since there are rocks surrounding it. We can only wait and see. Typically the chicks dive down off a straight ledge into the water, but this will not be the case at the plot located on a lower rock adjacent to Colony Rock (as seen in the photo below, red circle). Once the chick lands on the water, the male parent teaches the new fledgling how to swim and fly. 🙂