19 May Central Coast Conservation – Ascensy Perez
Welcome back to my blog everyone! I’ve been working at Cape Perpetua for just about a month now, and boy, what an amazing time this has been! Over the last month, I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time – what birds are most common to the area, the local forest flora, how to be a successful park ranger, and much more!
Not only have I been studying the local plant species and wildlife at the Cape, but I’ve also been putting a lot of effort into the planning stages of my central coast conservation project (CCC – see what I did there 😉?). This season, I’ll essentially be working on developing interpretive programs about some of the most important birds in the area – in this case, I will be mainly focusing on the federally threatened and locally endangered Marbled Murrelet (allegedly pronounced merr-lit, but I think this is up to interpretation).
These little birds spend a majority of their lives out on the open ocean and can travel up to 50 kilometers inland to nest in old growth forest habitats ranging from Alaska to California. On a more global scale, the total Murrelet population is regarded to be just fine, but there are only about 7,000 remaining Murrelets in Oregon.
Arguably the two most important factors contributing to the Murrelet’s declining population are logging and littering. And while the logging industry has been a major contributor to habitat destruction for the Murrelets, I want to mention how destructive littering can be to Murrelet establishment.
Littering near recreation areas – which can include apple cores, banana peels, and even food crumbs – can have detrimental effects on Marbled Murrelet nesting habitats. When you leave crumbs behind, for example, things may look fine – until you look up. Murrelets nest in old growth trees that are hundreds of feet tall, and even the smallest traces of human food attract Corvids, the number one predator to the Marbled Murrelet, directly to their nests. What can happen after is not pretty (trust me, I’ve seen it and haven’t fully recovered).
Thus, the interpretive programs I’ll be working on will focus on promoting a clean camp ranger message. I’ll have to find innovative and impactful ways to make sure the people I interact with will remember why it is important to keep recreation areas better than when they found it. There is so much we can do to help protect these birds without having to sacrifice our desire for recreation. Overall, I’m really looking forward to getting out and teaching people about this adorably important bird!