Murre Chicks!

Hello all. Hope the summer is treating you with some sun and outdoor adventures. Maybe even some birding time thrown in there as well. The month of June was an exhilarating time for the common murres as they toughed through holding their ground against eagles and pesky gulls attacks. Aside from last year, the previous years for these birds have not been the best in terms of having their nests successfully make it.

These birds aren’t like your typical land bird that builds nests for their eggs. In fact these aren’t land birds at all. The water is their home but will come onto rock formations to mate and nest. The nests themselves aren’t anything fanciful made, since they don’t gather material to form one, but they do choose what they believe would be an ideal spot on the rock ground. If you ever get the chance to see these birds during the nesting season, the sheer numbers are what might capture your attention at first. Or maybe their sounds.

They are a chatty bunch that believe that survival is best when a large group sticks together. It’s a strategy that works but will sometimes need an individual to take one for the team. Like mentioned earlier, eagles and gulls will try to either grab an adult for lunch or scare them off the rock to get to their eggs. Sadly, once an egg is gone, the pair will not lay another one for the season.

So as you can see, the month of July may not be as easy-going after all. But don’t mistake this tale for a sad one. This year has had more nests and so far the chicks are still present in a high portion of nests. They made it through the round of June but there’s still July to overcome. There are tough and brave birds this year, holding their ground against eagles (yup you read that right, we’re talking multiple eagles at a time).

I’m out in observation point looking at these birds three days out of the week for several hours. Being out there you can probably guess that at some point, people will ask questions either about the birds or what we are doing in general. In the beginning, I would just give the clear cut answer to save time but there were moments where I would give them the more interpretative explanation. Giving the murres and the cormorants more of a relatable lifestyle that people can relate to. Sometimes we might feel like a murre in the months of summer. Maybe knowing that if these birds can stand up against an eagle or two, then maybe they can take one whatever challenges they might be going through.

Robert Vargas
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