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1 March 2005 WHO SOLVED THE MYSTERY OF THE MARBLED MURRELET?
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Abstract

To determine which northwestern naturalists solved the mystery of where marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) nest, we reviewed all historical records of “breeding” (including nests, eggs, and chicks found at inland locations) to determine all 1st breeding records. The 1st breeding records were in coastal coniferous old-growth forests; the 1st inland chick was found without a nest (Minerva, Oregon—1918), and the 1st inland egg was found without a nest (Saxon, Washington—1925). The 1st confirmed record of a ground nest with an incubating adult was found above tree line at 580 m elevation (Chichagof Island, Alaska—1931). The 1st and 2nd confirmed records of old-growth tree nests were found near the ocean when a dead adult with a brood patch and broken eggshells were found amid a felled western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla; Masset, British Columbia—1953) and 2 chicks fell to the ground during the felling of a western red cedar (Thuja plicata; Holberg, British Columbia—1967). We consider that the mystery was solved between 1918 and 1967 and collectively credit 1st breeding records to EJ Booth, W Feyer, RD Harris, AB Johnston, ER Osburn, and S Warburton Jr. We also identify other important findings that helped solve the mystery of the marbled murrelet including: 1st recorded observation of murrelets flying inland from the coast (Sitka, Alaska—1896); 1st shelled egg from an oviduct of an adult female collected at sea (Howkan, Alaska—1897); 1st recorded far-inland record of flying murrelets (Glacier, Washington—1905); 1st accepted well-described tree nest (Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii; Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California—1974); 1st accepted well-described ground nest (Barren Islands, Alaska—1978); 1st long-billed murrelet (B. perdix) probable ground nest (Komandorskiye Islands, Russia—about 1891); 1st long-billed murrelet confirmed tree nest (Okhotsk, Russia—1961); and 1st Kittlitz's murrelet (B. brevirostris) confirmed ground nest (Pavloff Mountain, Alaska—1913). Since the 1970s, solution of the mystery has continued with discoveries of the 1st confirmed cavity or crevice nest (Port Chatham, Alaska—1981), 1st confirmed cliff nest (Perry Island, Alaska—1989), and 1st confirmed nest in a deciduous tree (red alder Alnus rubra; Toba Inlet, British Columbia—2000).

Harry R. Carter and Spencer G. Sealy "WHO SOLVED THE MYSTERY OF THE MARBLED MURRELET?," Northwestern Naturalist 86(1), (1 March 2005). https://doi.org/10.1898/1051-1733(2005)086[0002:WSTMOT]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 21 April 2004; Published: 1 March 2005
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