Bird Watching Good on Oregon Coast, but Some Species Worry Scientists
(Oregon Coast) – There is some good news for bird watchers along the Oregon coast, but some bad news as well for some species, according to a press release update about bird watching from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Above: Cannon Beach is prime for watching some birds now)
ODFW said now is a fine time to be watching nesting sea birds and falcons around the region. Tufted puffins are nesting now on the Oregon coast. Most of them are found on Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, two miles south of Cape Meares and one-half mile offshore.
“But you can also see them closer to shore on Haystack Rock off Cannon Beach,” ODFW said.
Common murres are sitting on their eggs at this time, seen nesting on almost any offshore rock along the beaches.
“Pick a high point overlooking an offshore rock, bring binoculars or a spotting scope and watch the show,” ODFW said.
You can now also see plenty of peregrine falcon eggs hatching. Three fuzzy white chicks are currently visible in a nest near the visitor’s center of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area north of Newport (above).
Common murre chicks are having a rough time this year, ODFW said. Chicks normally fledge at the end of July, but biologists have been seeing colonies of the birds being disturbed by bald eagles and juvenile brown pelicans. Their method of attack tends to be to flush adults out of the nests and then kill the chicks.
Scientists have noted the eagles and pelicans are literally doing a kind of deadly mugging of the chicks for their food: they will shake them violently until the chicks regurgitate their fish, eat the fish and then leave the chicks for dead – if they aren't dead already.
It has ODFW scientists concerned, especially in the Newport area.
“The predation killed nearly all murre chicks in a research plot on Yaquina head,” ODFW said in a press release. “Scientists counted 350 dead chicks washed up on the beaches between Newport and Yaquina Head.”
The public can see this – if you've got the stomach for it. It's happening on many of the offshore rocks around the Oregon coast, but you'll need some good zoom optics to view it.
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