Unlike other alcids, laying of replacement eggs has not been well documented in Brachyramphus murrelets. Observations of two radio-marked Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in northern California during 2001 and 2002 suggested that they can re-lay in the same breeding season. In 2001, aircraft telemetry first detected a male Marbled Murrelet at a forested inland location on 17 May. This bird alternated 24h incubation bouts with 24h at sea periods until 29 May, when data logger recordings indicated that the bird arrived at the nest at 05.17 h (PDT), but left at 05.32 h. This nesting effort had apparently failed. Sixteen days later, on 14 June this murrelet arrived in the vicinity of the first nest site at 05.19 h and remained there until 18.57 h that same evening and then left. We suspected that this event represented a second breeding effort that also failed, either near or at the site of the first effort. In 2002 a female Marbled Murrelet, first detected inland on 13 June by aircraft telemetry, alternated on the nest one day and at sea the next until 23 June when the breeding effort is presumed to have failed. This bird was again detected inland on 21 July, and alternated on the nest one day and at sea the following day until 3 August, when the radio-transmitter fell off the bird. Video recordings at the nest site indicated this second nesting attempt continued until 1 September, when the chick died of unknown causes. As in other alcids, re-laying apparently occurred 2-4 weeks after failure of the first eggs, either near or at the site of first eggs. Re-nesting may be frequent in murrelets, given the high rates of breeding failure reported.
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Vol. 26 • No. 3