What you see here is a marbled murrelet's one chance to maintain its population every year. This endangered seabird is the size of a robin but lays an egg the size of a chicken's egg on a wide, mossy branch high in the mature and old-growth coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest.
The forests the murrelet requires for successful nesting are found on federal, state, and private lands. Despite being protected as a threatened species under federal and state Endangered Species Acts since the early 1990s, the marbled murrelet's population is crashing and our federal and state agencies seem incapable of making meaningful changes to the way they manage the forests. The logging of our old-growth forests has left us with less than five percent of our orginal forests. Yet the logging continues--stand by stand, patch by patch, tree by tree. The murrelet and other species continue to decline.
In Washington state, where I live, the Department of Natural Resources manages 2 million acres of state forest land for marbled murrelets. Some of these forests actually have trees occupied by nesting murrelets, others have potential nesting trees, others have trees that were once used for nesting but are no longer suitable. There if very little "old-growth" left and there seems to be little effort being made to grow our younger forests into old-growth.
Right now, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working on its Long Term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet--a strategy that includes public involvement. This fall, there will be an opportunity for you--yes, you--to support conservation of the marbled murrelet and the forests it needs to survive. Don't let busyness or shyness hold you back. To make it easy for you to get in the loop, to understand the lingo (acronymese), and to get engaged, I have written a short primer called Acronym for Advocates. There are just ten to learn (you probably know some of them already).
Click here to read it--and pass it on! If you don't start now, it might be too late for the murrelet.
If you are thinking, "Hey, I'm not a bird person. Heck! I can't even pronounce marbled murrelet," you should read the primer anyway. The marbled murrelet is just one of hundreds of animals that depend on the mature and old-growth forest for survival. Whatever steps you take for the murrelet, you take for these other species as well.
If you want to learn more about the development of the Long Term Conservation Strategy, click here.