Oystercatcher Morning


Hocker-oystercatcher2 Spent a pleasant couple of hours yesterday morning on a small island in Auke Bay, observing a pair of black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) at their nest site. I especially enjoyed watching the different behaviors of the female and the male. The female was very vocal, stood and walked tall when in motion, moved around a great deal. The male crept among the rocks, keeping his head low, and sat still for many minutes at a time. The female was the one to settle on the nest, though.

The scrape nest held three eggs, just at the edge of the ryegrass zone, green with black speckles and very hard to see. It was an eloquent case for being very careful when exploring the shore this time of year–and perhaps just avoiding this type of habitat altogether and staying below the tideline…


UPDATE: I have just learned that the tagged bird is actually a male, so the above-described behaviors should be role-reversed… This male was banded and satellite-tagged about four years ago. He has been returning to the same nesting area ever since. 

Big Little Discovery

Murrelet-sketch So back in July, we were surveying for American dippers on a creek
near Juneau. We hiked to the top of a cliff near a waterfall, at the
base of which we knew there was a dipper nest. As I topped the cliff, a
small brown bird burst out from a ledge below us and zinged downstream.
The bird's size, field marks, and style of flight–plus the
greenish-blue speckled egg it left behind in a hollow of moss–identified it as a marbled murrelet.

Murrelet nests are hard to find (just over 50 have been found in
Southeast Alaska, where these little puffin-cousins are among the most
abundant seabirds). We were thrilled to have found it, but very concerned that we had caused the birds to abandon it.

But they hadn't. So for the past several weeks, we've been checking
in on the single chick in the nest. Today it is looking pretty ready to
depart, so it may be gone by tomorrow…