Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi


Scripps's Murrelet is a small alcid found in coastal and pelagic waters off the West Coast of North America. It breeds on islands off of southern California and northwestern Baja California, Mexico, and can disperse hundreds of miles during the nonbreeding season to search for nutrient-rich upwelling waters of the California current. This species is black above and white below, and is very similar in appearance to both Guadalupe (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) and Craveri's (Synthiloboramphus craveri) murrelets. Guadalupe Murrelet can be distinguished more easily, as it has a distinctive face pattern, with broad white crescents around the eye. Craveri's Murrelet is much more similar to Scripps's, but has a dark spur on the sides of breast, a narrow black chin, and dusky underwing coverts. Until recently, Scripps's and Guadalupe murrelets were classified as a single species, "Xantus's Murrelet", but they now are recognized as a separate species, as they are locally sympatric as breeders on San Benito Island, differ in face pattern and in bill shape, and have different vocalizations. Scripps's Murrelet often is seen in pairs sitting on the ocean, Where it forages by diving for small fish. The primary threat affecting Scripps's Murrelet populations is predation by introduced animals on breeding islands, while oil pollution presents the greatest known at-sea threat to this species.

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© Bob McGuire

Range map needed

Recommended Citation

Scripps's Murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: