Cassin’s Auklet Wreck

Cassin's Auklet wreck data as of November 21, 2014.

Cassin’s Auklet wreck data, October 1 – November 21, 2014.

Beginning in late October and continuing through mid November, we've witnessed an uptick in Cassin's Auklets. In collaboration with West Coast beached bird partners Beach Watch (San Francisco - GFNMS) and BeachCOMBERS (Monterey Bay - MBNMS), and British Columbia Beached Bird Survey we know this event extends from Washington State south to Monterey Bay. The highest per kilometer counts occurred in Oregon North (30 Cassin's Auklets per kilometer at McPhillips Beach in Tillamook County). 

Why Cassin's, why now? Cassin's Auklet colonies in British Columbia (75.9% of the North American population) fared well this season with high (the highest?) reproductive output recorded from decades of monitoring. Lots of young-of-the-year out in the Pacific this year! Ocean conditions, may (though we don't have evidence yet) be deteriorating more than normal. Storm activity November 15/16 preceded a wave of beaching - not unusual - the combination of young birds and difficult conditions predictably lead to wrecks, like those we see most years, at the end of a good Common Murre breeding season.
Just two of the 179 birds Patty counted on 12/23 near Neskowin, OR.

Just two of the 179 birds Patty counted on December 23 near Neskowin, OR.

UPDATE: A new wave of Cassin's Auklets hit the coast of Washington and Oregon beginning Sunday, December 21 with up to 100/km on some beaches. These small, fist-sized birds have a dark bill (pale spot at base), dark back and wings, white belly. Fresh specimens show blue-ish feet (3 webbed toes, no hind toe).

6 thoughts on “Cassin’s Auklet Wreck

  1. Caroline

    We were only able to spend a short time in the area and found 8 dead cassins auklets in 10 yard area on the beach just north of Cape Johnson, WA today. Several of them were banded with colored coded cable ties on their wings. Photos were taken.

    Reply
    1. coasst Post author

      Hi Caroline. Those ties are part of our study of baseline carcass encounter rates through COASST – you’ve come to the right place! These carcasses could be part of the Ellen’s Creek segment surveyed 1/7. ~Jane (Seabird Program Coordinator)

      Reply
  2. Dorothea Derickson

    19 CAAUs on a half mile of beach at Moolack South/Oregon North!
    Actually there was one more that I didn’t see until I was on my way out and the sun was setting.

    Reply

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