Counting Marbled Murrelets in Our Forest

 Instructor David Fix lectures to murrelet survey class participants at Butano Redwoods State Park.  Photo courtesy of Justin Miller

Instructor David Fix lectures to murrelet survey class participants at Butano Redwoods State Park. Photo courtesy of Justin Miller

Bioregional Council Co-sponsors Local Marbled Murrelet Training Class

Twelve local biologists were trained and certified this past June to conduct forest surveys for murrelets in the Santa Cruz Mountains.   An intensive 4-day training class was co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council, the San Mateo County Parks Department, and the California State Parks Department.

The class started at 4:45 AM each day and consisted of a mix of field observations of the elusive early-flying marbled murrelet and classroom lectures.  The lectures covered proper data recording methods, the natural history of the species (with an emphasis on nesting requirements), and the distribution and status of the marbled murrelet in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The instructors were Sean McAllister and David Fix from Northern California with local murrelet experts assisting them in both the field and the classroom.  

In order to better manage for the murrelet, which is declining, six of the most important murrelet breeding areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains are monitored by trained surveyors each summer.  The Santa Cruz Mountains’ population is only about 300 -500 birds, and information about nesting efforts is urgently needed to guide conservation efforts.  Readers interested in learning more about the challenges facing survival of the marbled murrelet in the Santa Cruz Mountains  can download the 225-page murrelet landscape management plan at this link, https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ag8KFU1_0Ef2cgqRCBsPs8Wgl4s .

The class was held at Gazos Mountain Camp within Butano Redwoods State Park and hosted by the Pescadero Conservation Alliance.