Oregon Coast Big Attraction Now: Puffins, Eagles, Nesting Seabirds
(Oregon Coast) – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is telling the public that puffins are a big attraction this time of year, as are seabirds like murres – and the bald eagles who are chasing them. (Puffin photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium).
From April through July is the best time to see puffins – mostly along the north Oregon coast. The best place is Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, according to ODFW, because it's quite close to viewers on the beach. But a larger amount are found at Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge at Oceanside.
That sanctuary is about two miles south of Cape Meares and one-half mile offshore west of Oceanside in Tillamook County. The three large rocks and six smaller ones make up the refuge, which is home to 12 species of seabirds that breed here, totaling 226,093 birds.
“This includes 30 percent of the Common murres breeding in Oregon and 21 percent of all common murres breeding in the eastern Pacific south of Alaska,” ODFw said. “This site also harbors 60 percent of the tufted puffin breeding population in Oregon. More than 800 brown pelicans have been seen here roosting and up to 13 bald eagles have been observed preying on seabirds.”
You can also see Three Arch Rocks from Cape Meares, but they are closer at Oceanside. Because of national wildlife laws, that area is closed to boaters year-round, and from May 1 through September 15 they must stay at least 500 feet away.
There are lots of other rocky areas around the Oregon coast that are home to common murres right now. These include Cape Meares, the cliffs near Sea Lion Caves just north of Florence, Newport's Yaquina Head, Heceta Head State Park's viewing area (also near Florence), and Ecola State Park at Cannon Beach.
And wherever the murres are nesting, ODFW said bald eagles come in to give chase as well.
Bald Eagles regularly fly out to these islands to kill a murre to feed their own chicks creating panic in the common murre colony. As the murres flee to avoid the eagles, ravens, crows and gulls often swoop in to make a meal of murre eggs and chicks.
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