Month: January 2011

Brandt’s Cormorant

pelagicBrandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) – Brandt’s Cormorants are found along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja. Their habitat being marine and estuarine, they nest colonially on offshore rocks and are the most common of the cormorants on the Oregon coast in the summer. They begin laying eggs in late March or early April. A nest is constructed of seaweed, algae, grasses and mosses. Four eggs are laid, sometimes up to six. Incubation lasts about 30 days and is done by both sexes. They feed the altricial young by regurgitation. They hunt for schooling fish in the upper water column. Like all cormorants, their feathers are not waterproof which decreases their buoyancy making it easier for them to catch their prey. Their longevity record is 17 years. Brandt’s Cormorants can be seen from April to August at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area , Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint, Coquille Point. They can also be found in estuaries and near shore waters.

Common Murre

murreCommon Murre (Uria aalge) – Common Murres are found in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. In the Pacific they range from western Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to central California. Common Murres are colonial nesters (they nest in large groups) and nest on rocky islands and cliff ledges in colonies of tens or hundreds of thousands of birds. They do not breed until four or five years of age. In Oregon, they begin laying in late April. No nest is built, instead a single egg is laid on bare rock and held on the tops of their feet during incubation. Incubation lasts 28 – 35 days and is done by both sexes. After the chick hatches the adult female flies north to molt while the male leads unfledged young on a swimming migration north to the protected waters of Washington and British Colombia. Young birds are able to fly approximately forty-two days after hatching. Common Murres are capable of diving more than 180 meters (or approximately 600 feet) deep and can “fly” underwater. They feed on schooling fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Their longevity record is 26 years. The largest colony complex in Oregon is Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge. Others locations during breeding season are Coquille Point, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, Cape Meares, and Cascade Head.