|Inside its nest box (used by PRBO and USFWS to monitor this seabird population), a Cassin's Auklet with its seasonally early egg.|
We step carefully in thick vegetation to avoid the natural burrows in the soil. After locating the first study plot, we check all the boxes. The procedure is the same at each: foot in hole to block the entrance to the box in case thereís a bird to find inside; remove rock from lid; peek under lid; record result. First study plotónada. Second study plotónil. Third study plotónothing. By now my expectation of finding a bird is low.
Then we make our way to the last plotówhere we find a bird not only present but incubating its egg! This is the earliest that PRBO has ever recorded a Cassinís Auklet breeding in one of our study plotsóMarch 2nd.
Forty years of monitoring Farallon seabirds have shown us that ďearlyĒ often equates with high reproductive success. Expectations for Cassinís Auklets in 2011 are suddenly much greater!