Birds connect us with the joy and wonder of nature. By telling vivid, sound-rich stories about birds and the challenges they face, BirdNote inspires listeners to care about the natural world – and takes step to protect it.
The Common Murre is among the few species of birds that can "fly" under water. When above the water, the 18"-long murre must flap frantically to stay aloft. But beneath the waves, with its flipper-like wings partly extended, it is a streamlined, masterful swimmer. Common Murres, black and
When we think of avian migration, we generally think of birds in flight. But Common Murres migrate north by swimming. Some Pacific Coast murres paddle north to the sheltered bays of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to feed on herring and other small fish. During their ocean migration, the adult
The raucous laughter of the Common Murre rings out from a nesting colony, high on a narrow ledge on a sea cliff. Precarious as their nest site is, Common Murres nest by the thousands along the Pacific Coast, perhaps millions north along the Bering Sea. Their eggs are pointed at one end and
Every year, close to two million birds nest on St. George Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, a couple hundred miles north of the Aleutian chain of Alaska. Murres, kittiwakes, cormorants, fulmars, Horned Puffins, and Parakeet Auklets arrange themselves on the cliffs
On St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea, Ivan Melovidov collects speckled murre eggs in the traditional Aleut way, by descending over the edge of a cliff. With a rope tied around his waist he runs along a cliff-face, dodging fulmars, seabirds known for projecting foul-smelling stomach oil
Imagine the nesting cliff of Common Murres, 100 feet above the ocean. Suddenly, a small murre chick, only three weeks old and just one-quarter the weight of an adult, lunges off the cliff, gliding clumsily to the water below. Soon other chicks follow, splashing into the sea. The chicks'
Point Reyes Bird Observatory -- now known as Point Blue Conservation Science -- works to understand how healthy ecosystems function and to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. For example, in the Farallon Islands (pictured here courtesy of Marty Knapp), scientists recorded
Common Murres, like these, disappeared from the coast of Maine in the 1880s, after years of being hunted. Since 1992, Dr. Steve Kress has been trying to coax the birds to nest there again. And the murres are coming back. In June, 2009, a pair of Common Murres nested on Matinicus Rock. It
In the late 1990s, Julia Parrish started the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team or COASST. Julia says: "We train people to go out to their local beach and survey it. They are looking for birds that have literally washed in on the last tide. COASST offers people a chance to learn
We asked Dr. Julia Parrish what lessons she has learned from 20 years of studying seabirds such as Common Murres. Lesson #1: Everybody can get out there and experience nature. It helps to define who you are and your part in the world. Lesson #2 is a conservation lesson. We have lots of
For two decades Julia Parrish of the University of Washington has studied the seabirds - like this Common Murre - of the Pacific Northwest Coast. What are her conclusions after 20 years? "I have been so often surprised and proved wrong. I'll have a concept or hypothesis, make a prediction
For 20 years, Julia Parrish of the University of Washington has been studying seabirds on the Pacific Northwest coast. During this time, the population of Bald Eagles has rebounded. What does the growing eagle population mean for Common Murres? When an eagle flies over a nesting area of
While the Bald Eagle may be the biggest story of conservation success in the 20th century, it's made life tough for some colonial seabirds. All the eagles have to do is soar by the cliff, and it causes panic, scaring birds off their nests. Then gulls and crows swoop in and get the eggs
The breeding success of seabirds along the North Pacific coast, like these Common Murres, depends on the timing of seasonal winds. Spring winds from the Gulf of Alaska cause the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water. But if the upwelling is delayed, seabird breeding suffers. Warmer