Downy Marbled Murrelet on its tree-top nest. Actually this is the preserved form of the chick discovered on its nest in 1974 in a Douglas-fir in Big Basin Redwood State Park in California. The discovery was made not by a birder or ornithologist, but by a tree trimmer working in the 220-foot-high fir. When this chick pecked at his vicious speed saw, the tree trimmer decided the bird was worth saving. The bird is now in the collection of the California Academy of Sciences.
I've been writing about clouds almost exclusively the past few months, but it's time to hark back to the subject of my last book,Rare Bird. The bird is the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in the old-growth coniferous forests of the Pacific Coast. Early loggers called it a "fog lark," because they would hear it's call early in the mornings when the thick coastal fog obscured all but the lower trunks of the trees they were felling. Few loggers likely ever saw a murrelet as these birds are secretive and camouflaged in the forest and silent on their elusive nests.
You can see photos of the murrelet and read more about this amazing bird on my website .
If you're in the Puget Sound region, I'll be giving two talks about this bird. One (a very brief introduction) for the Olympia Mountaineers Wednesday, March 2, at 6 p.m. And on March 9 for the Seattle chapter of the Sierra Club at the REI.
The cover of Joan Dunning's new book shows an adult murrelet and it's chick on a moss-covered branch, likely hundreds of feet up an old-growth redwood tree. The nesting location of this unusual bird wasn't discovered until 1974.
Though my head is in the clouds these days, working onStill Life with Clouds, author-illustrator Joan Dunning, has created a beautiful children's book on the marbled murrelet. It's calledSeabird in the Forest and it's due out in April from Houghton-Mifflin. Click here for a sneak preview of the book. Joan has published several books for adults and children on natural history topics, including Leaving Home, Secrets of the Nest, and From the Redwood Forest . She lives in Arcata, California enviably close to the marbled murrelets. Through her art and writing, Joan has worked passionately to help conserve the old-growth forests and it's mysteries. The story of the murrelet chick is a compelling one that will appeal to adults and children alike.