Ancient Murrelet

These birds breed in colonies, their two eggs are laid in burrows excavated in forest soil among tree roots, under logs or in grass tussocks, occasionally in rock crevices. These small auks arrive at and depart from their nesting grounds at night, presumably to reduce predation, and perhaps for the same reason the young are never fed at the nest, being taken to sea 1-3 days after hatching. The parents and young recognise one another by call and after the chicks have run from the burrow to the sea, they locate their parents by call and the entire family swims immediately out at sea. The family continues to move away from land for at least twelve hours. After that, the young are fed exclusively at sea by their parents for more than a month.

The Ancient Murrelet is classified as Least Concern. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

Distribution of the Ancient Murrelet in North America. The Ancient Murrelet is the most abundant and widespread member of the genus Synthliboramphus, the only seabirds in which the young are reared entirely at sea. It is found around the northern Pacific rim, from China to British Columbia, being most numerous in the eastern part of its range. More

The Ancient Murrelet, Synthliboramphus antiquus, is a bird in the auk family. It breeds from the Yellow Sea (islands off China), through the Russian Pacific coast and the Aleutian Islands to the Haida Gwaii archipelago of British Columbia, where about half of the world population breeds. These birds breed in colonies, their two eggs (sometimes one) are laid in burrows excavated in forest soil among tree roots, under logs or in grass tussocks, occasionally in rock crevices. More

The Ancient Murrelet is a bird species which is native to numerous countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Canada, China, Korea, Russia, United States, Taiwan and Mexico. There have been reportings of this bird in the United Kingdom as well. The range of the Ancient Murrelet can reach up to 1 million square kilometers. The current global population of the Ancient Murrelet is thought to be around 1 million. More

Ancient Murrelet - Synthliboramphus antiquusThe Ancient Murrelet is the only one of the Auks to ever have been identified in South Dakota. Normally found along the southern coastline of Alaska and of western Canada, small numbers of these birds may be blown inland by early winter storms each year, normally in October or November. They are named for the gray coloring on the back which is said to resemble an old woman's shawl. More

Appearance: Weighing less than 8 ounces, the Ancient Murrelet is a relatively small bird, measuring 10 inches in length, with a wingspan of 17 inches. The handsome adult breeding plumage features a gray back, white undersides, and black head and throat. White patches on the sides of the neck are also obvious, as are distinctive white plumes above and behind the eyes. The Ancient's pale yellow bill is shorter than that of other murrelets. In winter, the plumage fades a bit, particularly the black throat and white "eyebrows. More

In winter, the Ancient Murrelet can be found in coastal waters as far south as southern California. The Ancient Murrelet may be far more common in the North American portion of its range. A legend for the range map to the right can be found here. Population Status & Trends Ancient Murrelet populations are decreasing overall. More

* Ancient Murrelet parents do not feed their chicks until they have emerged from their burrows and reached the sea. * Mated Ancient Murrelets alternate shifts in incubating eggs. The shifts are usually three days long, and may last as long as six days. More

Ancient Murrelets spend most of the time on cold-water seas. They forage over the edge of the continental shelf, and also closer to shore, especially in areas where tidal currents bring food up to the surface. They nest on islands or inland in dense forests with thick moss but little underbrush. More

Ancient Murrelet - Oregon Shore Birds Location in Oregon Blue is Winter range - Red is Summer range Purple is Year-round range - Yellow is Migration range Ancient Murrelet range Ancient Murrelet Synthilboramphus antiquis - Uncommon to common; winters from Alaska to central California. More

Order : Charadriiformes
Family : Alcidae
Genus : Synthliboramphus
Species : antiquus
Authority : (Gmelin, 1789)