Lecture focuses on marbled murrelet, bird of two worlds

Written by Triplicate Staff January 03, 2013 09:17 am

The second Sequoia Park Zoo conservation lecture in the 2012–2013 series invites humans into the amazing world of the marbled murrelet — a bird that nests high up in the redwoods and spends the rest of its life on the ocean.

Next Wednesday in Eureka, January 9, Gary Falxa, a biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species program in Arcata, will provide an introduction to the murrelets and their ecology.

The life cycle of these birds is tied both to the ocean, where they feed and spend most of their lives, and the older forests that they depend on for nesting. 

“My first encounter with marbled murrelets in Humboldt County was awaking to murrelet calls in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, as the birds flew upriver through the dawn fog,”  Falxa said.  “This talk will examine how efforts over the past 10-15 years can help bring into focus how old-growth forest protection and ocean conditions may impact murrelet populations and what we can do to protect these unique birds.”

Since 2007, Falxa has coordinated the monitoring of murrelet populations and their habitat in California, Oregon and Washington, under the Northwest Forest Plan. In addition to marbled murrelets, he is interested in conserving endangered butterflies and other rare species in northwest California, and to that end has also worked on habitat conservation plans for commercial timberlands in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

He received his doctorate in zoology from the University of California, Davis, specializing in animal ecology.

The talk will take place in the zoo’s classroom in the Secrets of the Forest building at 7 p.m., and a reception will be held half an hour beforehand. There is no charge to attend, and both zoo members and non-members are invited. Enter through the main zoo gates.

The next lecture in the series will take place Feb. 13. Dawn Goley, professor of zoology at Humboldt State University and director of the Marine Mammal Education & Research Program, will present “Marine Mammals in Northern California — Studied Dead or Alive!”

Established in 1907, Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in California and one of the smallest accredited zoos in the country. It is located at 3414 W St. in Eureka. For more information visit: www.sequoiaparkzoo.net.