Common Murre “fly” underwater using strong wings, and can reach depths up to 600 feet. The oldest known individual lived to be 26 years old. Common Murre lay one pear-shaped egg, directly on the rock outcrop they call a nest. They spend winters at sea and nest in colonies along rocky cliffs.
Brandt’s Cormorants use their webbed feet, like propellers, to dive down in pursuit of prey! The maximum known life span is 18 years. Brandt’s Cormorants can lay 1-4 eggs in nests on cliffs, islands and offshore rocks. They breed along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico. During breeding season their expandable throat pouch turns bright blue.
More than 30% of the total world population nests on Southeast Farallon Island, California. The maximum life span is 20–25 years; 10–15 is typical. Western Gulls build nests on offshore
rocks and islands. Their nest is made with vegetation, feathers, rope, plastic, and other found items. They can lay 1-3 eggs each year. Western Gulls have pink legs. Their breeding range extends from Washington to central Baja.
Black Oystercatchers eat mussels and limpets found along rocky shorelines. They have a life span of approximately 40 years. Black Oystercatchers may use the same nest site in inter-tidal habitat for several years. They can lay 1-3 eggs. The California population of Black Oystercatchers is approximately 4,000 individuals. They are found along the West Coast from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Baja, California.
Yellow tufts appear on males and females during breeding season. Tufted Puffins lay 1 egg in cliff-side burrows (5 feet deep) lined with vegetation and feathers. Tufted Puffins have a barbed tongue that allow them to carry a mouth full of fish back to the nest to feed their chick. They spend winters near deep waters in North Central Pacific. Tufted Puffins breed along Pacific coast from Alaska to the Channel Islands.
Sooty Shearwaters travel 40,000 miles annually, from New Zealand to Monterey Bay, and back to New Zealand. They have a life span of approximately 35 years. Sooty Shearwaters breed on islands in New Zealand and raise a single chick each year. They gather in flocks of 100’s of 1000’s along the California coast during the fall to feed on the prey found in the prey-abundant waters.
Pigeon Guillemot are able to scale vertical rock faces by flapping their wings and using their sharp claws. The oldest recorded bird was 14 years old. Pigeon Guillemot breed from Alaska to California with the largest breeding colony at the Farallon Islands. They can lay 1-2 eggs in rocky crevices along cliffs.
Ashy Storm-Petrel are found only in California and northwestern Baja, Mexico. They can live up to 34 years. Ashy Storm-Petrels lay one egg each year in rock crevices on offshore rocks, and under driftwood in sea caves. The breeding population is estimated between 5,200-10,000 birds. Over half of these birds nest on the Farallon Islands.
Leach’s Storm-Petrels fly like butterflies over the ocean, skimming food from the surface of the water. They can live up to 24 years. Leach’s Storm-Petrels lay one egg in burrows on small offshore islands. Leach’s Storm-Petrel are a small secretive seabird reaching only approximately 8 inches in length.
During the breeding season the skin under their eyes turns magenta. The oldest known bird from British Columbia lived to be 17 years old. Pelagic Cormorants build nests on narrow ledges, steep cliffs, and lay between 3–5 eggs each year. They are the smallest of the North American cormorants. The North American breeding range for Pelagic Cormorants is from Alaska to the Baja Pacific Islands, Mexico.
The Rhinoceros Auklet delivers food to the nest in the dark of night. They lay 1 egg in burrows which can be 1–5 meters deep in soil. Rhinoceros Auklets dive underwater to capture prey, using their wings to swim. They are dark gray with a white belly. During the breeding season breeding males and females bear a “horn” on the base of the bill.
Feathers of Double-crested Cormorants are not waterproof; they must dry their wings (pictured above). The oldest banded bird was 17 years. They can lay up to 4 eggs each year in nests on the ground, on cliff edges, or in trees and shrubs. Double-crested Cormorants are the most widely distributed cormorant. They can be found from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Mexico. During breeding season their throat turns yellow.
California Gulls aided Mormon settlers in Utah by helping rid their crops of grasshoppers. The oldest known banded recovery is 27 years. California Gulls breed on islands in lakes or rivers. They are opportunistic feeders. They run through dense groups of alkali flies with their head down and mouth open, eating flies as they go. California Gulls have a yellow bill with a black ring near the tip. They have yellow-green legs.
Cassin’s Auklets store food in their throat pouch to bring back to the nest. The average life span is 6–20 years. Cassin’s Aukets build burrows in rock crevices and return to nest at night. Both parents incubate a single egg. Their breeding range extends from the Pacific coast, from Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Baja, California.
Black-footed Albatross are able to drink seawater and excrete the excess salt through glands above their eyes. Banded individuals have lived at least 40 years. Black-footed Albatross lay one egg per year and nest primarily on the Hawaiian Islands. They are able to locate food with their keen sense of smell, while they wander the northern Pacific for most of the year.
Brown Pelican can hold over 2 gallons of water in their throat pouch. The oldest known individual lived to be 43 years old. Brown Pelican can lay up to 3 eggs in nests on the
ground or in trees. They breed on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands. These are the only breeding colonies in the western United States. Their breeding range extends from the Channel Islands to central Mexico.