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Common Murres in trouble

It’s hard to miss the many seabird carcasses scattered along the beach, and in town beneath a Bald Eagle’s favorite dining branch. Scavengers like Ravens, Northwestern Crows, and Black-billed Magpies feast on the leftovers and reduce the carcasses to bones and feathers blowing in the wind.

Common Murres are in trouble across South-Central, and no one knows why.  Some Murres still dive normally and fly underwater using their wings to chase small fish. But many others paddle lethargically as if in a daze, easy pickings for a hungry Eagle.

On Sunday, ten Murres were spotted flying north into the teeth of that bitter, strong wind, following the highway as far as Mile 12. Nine motorists stopped to pick up the stranded birds between Mile 9 and 12; eight were delivered to the Alaska Sealife Center, and one was released to the harbor. Murres should not be flying away from their ocean home.

The Murres are also acting strange in other ways, paddling towards people and other birds, not recognizing danger.

This local seabird somewhat resembles a penguin with the short neck, white body, black wings and back, and feet positioned far to the rear. Summer boat tours take visitors to see their nests perilously located on the steep cliffs at Cape Resurrection and Chiswell Islands. This remarkable bird can dive to 600 feet to find food, so why are they starving when other seabirds seem to be healthy and finding food?

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Watch for the Murres in the harbor and along the Waterfront beach. If you find an injured bird, there isn’t much you can do. It’s best to let Nature take its course.

Carol

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