Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Common Murre Fathers Take Over

Over the cliff and into the ocean!

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' fathers will now tend their young for up to two months. The father feeds the fledgling and teaches it to forage for itself.

Be an early bird!  Sign up for the BirdNote weekly preview here.

Full Transcript

Common Murre Fathers Take Over

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Colony of Common Murres -- the Laugh call of the colony as from “Common Murres - Nature’s Laugh Track”] We’re hearing Common Murres, birds of the Pacific and Bering Sea, and the north Atlantic by Labrador and Newfoundland. Common Murres can “fly” under water.
In mid-summer, imagine these black-and-white seabirds crowded on ledges 100 feet above the ocean, sheltering their chicks. It’s dusk. More adult murres call from the waves below. [Call of the adult Common Murre]
Suddenly a small murre chick, only three weeks old and just one-quarter the weight of an adult, lunges off the cliff, gliding in ungainly fashion to the water below. Soon other murre chicks clamber, bounce, and splash into the ocean.
These little murres are fledging, leaving their birthplace as pint-sized chicks. At this point, the mothers’ parenting tasks are complete. The chicks’ fathers have called them down to the ocean. They will tend their young for up to two months, nurturing them at sea. With the chick at his side rather than back on the precarious cliff, the father can feed the fledgling on the spot, and help the chick learn to forage for itself.
Listen to the calls of the chicks as they accompany their fathers upon the waves.
[High pitched whistle calls of chicks, with answering parent call] By this date, the lesson is nearly over. [Pause]
Would you like to receive stunning photos each week of the birds we’ll feature in the week ahead? If so, come to and sign up on the link entitled “Weekly Preview.” For BirdNote, I’m Frank Corrado.
Calls of the Common Murres (chicks and fathers) provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Thomas G. Sander.
Calls of the Common Murre colony recorded by Bob Sundstrom.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to   September 2013   Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID# 090205COMUKPLU   COMU-03b

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Related field notes: