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Oregon waters host approximately 1.2 million breeding seabirds and even more summer and winter migrants with residency times varying from days to months. Not only does seabird species diversity and abundance vary seasonally, but also spatially from nearshore where heavy bodied diving species with low flight heights dominate, to offshore waters where more dynamic soaring species with higher flight heights prevail. Ship-based and aerial surveys of seabirds off Oregon have been conducted in previous years, but knowledge gaps still remain in our understanding of seabird distribution and movement patterns during winter, night, and inclement weather. With the use of individual tracking devices, we aim to fill these knowledge gaps for representative resident and migrant species. Additionally, we aim to model three dimensional movement of birds using devices that record dive depths and flight heights.
During spring 2015, we began tracking Pink-footed Shearwaters, Common Murres, and Western Gulls. We deployed ten satellite transmitters on Pink-footed Shearwaters on Isla Mocha Chile. Based on prior tracking studies, we expect some of these individuals to migrate into Oregon Waters. We also deployed 10 satellite transmitters on Common Murres offshore from the Yaquina Head breeding colony in Newport and ten archival GPS tags on Western Gulls from a breeding colony in Yachats. A summary of these animals’ movements are shown in the images below and daily movements of Pink-footed Shearwaters can be viewed from the link provided.
During the next two years, we will continue year-round tracking of these and other species representing different flight morphologies and diving capabilities of birds along the Oregon Coast. The study also will include retrospective analyses of previous tracking data and vessel transect data and physical variables to improve predictive habitat-use models. Additionally, tracking data will allow for development of spatial-vulnerability models for offshore renewable energy development. This study will also contribute to the California Current System Seabird Telemetry Atlas that is being created by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Follow daily movements of Pink-footed Shearwaters:
Browse Common Murres' movement:
U.S. Geological Service
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management