It’s Raining Eggs
May 21, 2019
By: Grace Kumaishi The Farallon Islands have not been immune to the recent storms that have affected much of Northern California this past week. Seabirds and biologists alike have had to contend with rain, high winds, and large swells. Luckily, all species are well-equipped to handle such conditions. Pictured: Common Murres surround a nesting Brandt’s
May 11, 2019
By: Grace Kumaishi This past week has been an exciting one on Southeast Farallon Island! The first eggs have been recorded in followed nests of Western Gulls, Brandt’s Cormorants, Cassin’s Auklets, and Rhinoceros Auklets. Our team has also started regular breed checks of Ashy Storm-petrels, Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, California Gulls, and Double-crested
Introducing the 2019 Seabird Crew
April 26, 2019
By: Sophia Prisco And we’re off! The 2019 seabird season has begun on the Southeast Farallon Island. Many thousands of murres, cormorants, auklets, puffins, and gulls have arrived to build their nests and raise their young…and the crew couldn’t be more excited. Just a few days ago we discovered our first Rhinoceros Auklet egg during
Spring Has Sprung!
April 18, 2019
The spring/summer season has officially begun and the PRBO house is at capacity! Although the seabird breeding season is off to a relatively slow start, our biologists are staying busy and eating well. Pictured: the summer 2019 crew enjoying a leisurely Sunday brunch, a much anticipated weekly tradition on the Farallones. (Clockwise from front: Grace
Meet Stumpy – The islands first Lesser black-backed gull
December 7, 2018
On 12 November 2018, while on a routine evening bird survey of the island, the SEFI crew encountered a third-cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull. This was a first island record for the species and one of only a handful that show up in California every year. Interestingly, we noticed that this bird was missing its left toes, a unique trait that makes it possible to track sightings of this individual in other locations. Sure enough, when the word was put out to the local birding community we discovered that the same bird had been spotted in Foster City, California last April!
A red-footed rarity
November 26, 2018
On 5 September 2018, the first Red-footed Booby since 1975 appeared on Southeast Farallon Island. On 7 November 2018, another Red-footed Booby appeared. Though they remain rare, the number of red-footed boobies sighted in California is on the rise. With warming oceans and changes in their primary food resources, you might start seeing more of these tropical birds along the central California coast in the coming years.
Where wood warblers wander
November 14, 2018
For the last two years, Point Blue has been collaborating with researchers from the University of Copenhagen to study the departure direction of vagrant songbirds which find their way to the Farallones. The goal of the project is to determine if these seemingly lost birds are doomed to perish by migrating the wrong way or if they are able to reorient themselves and continue their journey to the wintering grounds. To tackle these questions, we captured birds in mist nets and, after obtaining morphological information and feather and blood samples, attached small radio transmitters to their backs. Using an array of antennas set up at the lighthouse with automated and handheld receivers, we were able to track their movements as they departed the island. if they are able to orient back to the mainland and successfully overwinter, then they will likely survive to breed in the future and possibly pass on the genes that control their mirror-image migration on to the next generation. Correction would indicate that the Farallon Islands may serve as an important stopover site for these migrating birds to rest and feed, allowing a greater chance at survival.
Observing white shark predation
September 28, 2018
In the fall, sharks migrate to the coast of California, including the Farallon Islands, to feed on pinnipeds (seals or sea-lions) when the abundance of immature animals is at its peak. This gives us a unique opportunity to study them. On September 27 as we were watching from the Lighthouse atop Southeast Farallon Island, a swarm of gulls began to circle and a pool of blood was observed in Fisherman’s Bay, indicating that a shark had just found a meal.
A Great Start to Fall Migration!
September 18, 2018
September 5 was a day to remember. Throughout the day, western migrants and eastern vagrants continued arriving at the island. It all started with a Connecticut Warbler on the kitchen windowsill as I was finishing breakfast. I ran outside for a better look and immediately heard a Mourning Warbler (another uncommon bird for the island). By the end of the day, we had tallied 15 species of warblers alone, including an Ovenbird, four Tennessee Warblers, a male American Redstart, and a Blackpoll Warbler. Read on to find out what else we have seen lately and to learn about one particularly special visitor to the Farallon Islands.
July 27, 2018
The Farallon Islands are uniquely situated for people interested in the act of finding and identifying birds, otherwise known as “birding”. The cluster of jagged rocks that make up the Farallones are located just far enough offshore to provide a stable platform for spotting rare pelagic species like the Cook’s petrel, and close enough to