January 14, 2017 – Scripps’s Murrelet, formerly Xantus’s Murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi)
Found off the west coast of North America, these small auks breed on islands off of Baja and southern California and are rarely seen from the mainland. They forage in pairs or family groups, diving under the water’s surface and using their wings to swim. Though their diet is not well known, they likely eat small crustaceans and other invertebrates. Breeding in small colonies, they nest under bushes or debris, or in crevices or burrows abandoned by other species. Chicks leave the nest one or two nights after they hatch, led away by their parents, which do not feed them in the nest. They often have to jump over 200 feet (60 meters) to reach the water and join their parents. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to predation, gill-nets, nest disturbance, bright lights from squid fisheries, and possibly pollution.