Marbled Murrelet
(Brachyramphus marmoratus)


Picture of bird
© Andrew A Reding - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Marbled Murrelets nest in old growth forests of the Pacific coast, from Alaska to California. Because nests are difficult to locate and the birds are secretive, solitary nesters, little historic data are available to describe changes in the abundance of birds breeding in Canada. Surveys at sea and surveys of birds near shore in winter suggest that the Canadian population may have exhibited a large decrease in abundance since about 1970. This decrease led the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to assess the species as Threatened in 2000; the status was re-examined and confirmed in 2012 (COSEWIC 2013f). The species was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2012. Loss of coastal forest to logging remains the single greatest threat to this species. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2012 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2003 
IUCN (Global)Endangered2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 100,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Marbled Murrelets typically nest in old growth coastal forest (Naslund et al. 1995), so loss and fragmentation of this habitat to logging is considered the greatest threat to the species in Canada (COSEWIC 2013f). In some portions of the range, increasing abundance of Common Ravens and other nest predators have reduced nesting success (Peery and Henry 2010). Entanglement in inshore gillnets has also been a significant threat (Nelson 1997). With increasing interest in shipping, and oil and gas development along the coast of British Columbia, through the core of the species' range, the risks of chronic or catastrophic oil pollution are of increasing conservation concern (e.g., Environment Canada 2014e). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship