Marbled Murrelet

Brachyramphus marmoratus

There are approximately 12 records of this small alcid for the Pribilof Islands. Marbled Murrelets breed in the eastern Aleutian Islands but typically do not seem to regularly wander well offshore. The recent Marbled Murrelet records are all from spring or early summer (May 10-June 11). There are two other species ofBrachyramphusMurrelets which could easily be confused with this species. Kittlitz’s Murrelet is overdue in the Pribilofs, and any potential Marbled Murrelet should be closely scrutinized to rule out this species. The thirdBrachyramphusis the Asian breeding Long-billed Murrelet, which has occurred once on Saint Paul, on June 5, 2004. The three species are perhaps easiest to separate while in basic plumage. Look especially for the extent of white on the hindneck, and the pattern of black and white on the face. Marbleds should show a fairly broad white neck collar and a dark cap that extends below the eye, but not into the lores. Kittlitz’s show a very faint dusky neck collar, all white face (with dark crown and neck), and also have white tips to their secondaries. Long-billeds have a much cleaner pattern than the other two species, with a dark black crown and cap, extending to the eye, and fully dark hindneck. This gives Long-billed Murrelet a similar facial pattern to a Xantus’s Murrelet. In breeding plumage Kittlitz’s show a whitish face, pale golden speckling across the breast, a white tail, and mostly white lower belly. On Marbled the face and back are a dark brown, retaining a hint of the dark capped look of the basic plumage, the tail is dark, and the breast and belly are mottled with a deep chocolate brown. Long-billed Murrelets in alternate plumage should show a cleaner white throat than on Marbled, with a paler brown crown and pale underwings (usually dark in Marbled). Although possible from any of the island’s vantage points, recent records come mainly from the island’s north shore, particularly Marunich.