The Sea Birds of Oregon

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Many species of seabirds live near the Oregon coastline.

Situated in the Northwestern United States, Oregon has several hundred miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Many varieties of seabirds live in this habitat. Though many birds can be found near the sea, seabirds spend most of their lives on the ocean. They eat, fly and sleep on open waters even if they must roost on land.

  1. Auklets

    • Auklets appear in two varieties in Oregon. The rhinoceros auklet has a distinct appearance during mating season, growing a vertical horn above its upper beak. Each April, they lay a single egg in burrows on offshore islands near the Oregon coast. Cassin's auklets are much harder to find to the state. According the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, less than a dozen colonies exist in Oregon. Unlike rhinoceros auklets, Cassin's auklets can raise two broods each spring. Ornithologists may find these birds in the Sea Lion Caves on Cape Perpetua.

    Pigeon Guillemots

    • Pigeon guillemots live on rocky coastlines and estuaries. Though they nest on land, the birds can fly underwater to catch bullhead, sculpin or other fish for dinner. Unlike other alcids such as the auklet, these seabirds lay two eggs at the same time. Bird watchers often see guillemots in Oregon at Coquille Point, Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach and Seal Rock.

    Cormorants

    • Double-crested cormorants are the most common species of cormorant in Oregon. They live offshore, often nesting in rock formations and trees of islands near the coastline. By wetting their feathers to reduce buoyancy, they can dive deep underwater to catch bottom-dwelling fish. Oregonian ornithologists usually see Brandt's cormorants in the summer. This species builds nests out of natural materials such as seaweed, moss and algae. They lay four to six eggs in their homes during roosting. As with double-crested cormorants, their feathers are not waterproof which enables them to dive deep into the ocean for catching prey.

    Rare Seabirds

    • Many species of rare birds live in Oregon. For instance, ornithologists have sighted certain albatrosses, including the short-tailed, shy, and Salvin's varieties, less than once a year. Other seabirds such as Stejneger's petrel or Cory's shearwater have not even been recorded once in the state, though researchers believe they may have been there, given sightings in nearby regions. For information on all rare bird sightings in the state, contact the Oregon Bird Records Committee (OBRC) which maintains extensive documentation on these elusive creatures.

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