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Audubon program looks at rare bird

by: COURTESY OF TOM HAMER, HAMER ENVIRONMENTAL - The talk, 'Marbled Murrelets: Recovering a Rare Bird,' is part of Audubon's Nature Night lecture series. Set for 7 p.m. at the Audubon Center, 5151 N.W. Cornell Road, the presentation is free and open to the public.
Marbled murrelet experts Maria Mudd Ruth and Paul Engelmeyer will share stories about the high-profile species during a Tuesday evening program at the Audubon Center, 5151 N.W. Cornell Road.Two local experts will highlight the conservation efforts of the marbled murrelet, a secretive seabird, at a Tuesday, Feb. 11, presentation at the Audubon Society of Portland.

The talk, “Marbled Murrelets: Recovering a Rare Bird,” is part of Audubon’s Nature Night lecture series. Set for 7 p.m. at the Audubon Center, 5151 N.W. Cornell Road, the presentation is free and open to the public.

Marbled murrelet experts Maria Mudd Ruth and Paul Engelmeyer will share stories about the high-profile species, from the groundbreaking discovery of a marbled murrelet nest site in 1974 to recent court victories that have protected the bird’s habitat.

For 185 years, the Pacific Northwest seabird drew the attention of ornithologists, birders and naturalists who searched the coast for its nests — no one knew where the robin-sized bird raised its young.

The species’ nest site was long considered one of the greatest ornithological mysteries in North America.

The mystery was finally solved in 1974 when an arborist found a marbled murrelet nest in an old-growth Douglas-fir tree.

The revelation helped scientists determine that murrelets depend on mature and old-growth coastal forests for survival, and that the continued logging of these forests posed a major threat to the species.

Led by the Audubon Society of Portland, conservation groups rallied around the marbled murrelet and in 1992 won protections for it under the Endangered Species Act.

Today, conservationists use a variety of approaches to protect the species, including habitat restoration, population monitoring and litigation.

Maria Mudd Ruth is the author of more than a dozen books on natural history for children and adults, including “Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet,” reissued in paperback this fall by Mountaineers Books.

Ruth lives in Olympia, Wash., where she is involved in several citizen-science conservation projects and is writing a book on clouds.

Conservationist Paul Engelmeyer has managed Portland Audubon’s Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary, home to nesting marbled murrelets, since 1990.

His work includes watershed restoration, species recovery and marine conservation efforts, and he has worked for decades to develop partnerships that have grown into a basin-wide habitat protection program on the central Oregon coast.

For more info, visit www.audubonportland.org.