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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

Species Code: BRMA

This is an "at risk" species

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Map with Breeding Bird Atlas records

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

This species is rare in mature coniferous forests west of the Cascade crest at low to moderate elevation. Normally, they nest on high, large limbs of old trees, though actual nesting data are sparse. They may be more common than is known, due to difficulty in detecting nests. They forage in sheltered waterways, harbors, etc. but are less likely to occur on open water.

Good habitat in the core areas of use included all west-side mid- and late-seral conifer and mixed forests in zones below Mountain Hemlock zones west of the Cascade crest, and Interior Western Hemlock just east of Snoqualmie Pass.

The first tree nest for Marbled Murrelet was discovered in 1963, near Okhotsk, Siberia. In 1975, the first tree nest in North America was discovered in a 200-foot Douglas-fir near Santa Cruz, California. Due to its status as a federally 'threatened' species, the Marbled Murrelet has been the subject of a flurry of research recently. By 1995, several million dollars and thousands of work hours have increased the number of known nests to 95, nine of which were in Washington. Occupancy data show Marbled Murrelets occurring in mature coniferous forests, suggesting nesting activities in these areas. The US Fish and Wildlife Service added the Marbled Murrelet to the 'threatened' list on October 1, 1992, and defines critical habitat for this species as having 1) individual trees with potential nesting platforms, and 2) forested areas within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of individual trees with potential nesting platforms, and with a canopy height of at least one-half the site-potential tree height. Based on the known nests, the nest site is located on a wide branch platform cushioned by Dwarf mistletoe or mosses. Early Washington confirmed breeding records are all of downy young or eggs in: Whatcom County in 1925, Sultan River Basin in 1950, Rugged Ridge in 1982-3, Aberdeen in 1983, and near Darrington in Snohomish County in 1989. The map only shows inland records, where breeding is possible. Groups of this species may be found in salt water throughout the breeding season, where they forage. The first actual nest in Washington was found near Verlot (Snohomish County) in 1990 in a Western Hemlock tree, by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service personnel.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester