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Introducing the Farallon Yellowstart

Fall migration is in full swing on the Southeast Farallon Islands, and the resident researchers recently had a great taste of just how birdy the islands can be when the weather conditions are ideal.

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A Peculiar Puffin

The Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is well known for the many species of seabirds which roost and breed here. Maybe the most charismatic of these species (and the one most sought by visitors on the sightseeing boats) is the Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). However, on the morning of June 30th, the crew was treated to a sighting of a Puffin of a different persuasion. While sitting on Lighthouse Hill during a Pigeon Guillemot diet watch, one of our biologists spotted a HORNED PUFFIN (Fratercula corniculata). This close relative of our Tufted Puffins is a rare sighting this far south and has been a thrilling addition to our usual collection of seabirds on the Farallones.

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A Migration North

The month of July often brings reflection on the events that have unfolded throughout the seabird season. Here on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, we’ve documented the earliest eggs on record, witnessed extremely high occupancy and chick success, an now wait with anticipation as some fully-feathered chicks begin to exercise their new flight feathers

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The Least Expected

People often ask when they learn about our work on the Farallones, “So, how are the bird counts going?”. While counting established long-term index plots is one method we use for tracking population change of ground nesting species like Western Gulls, Brandt’s Cormorants, or Common Murres, determining the number of birds that nest underground is

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Auklet Class of 2020

There are approximately 500 wooden boxes (shown with a rock on top in the photo) scattered around on Southeast Farallon Island that are used as nesting habitat by Cassin’s auklets, the small seabird I’m holding in the photo. These boxes have been checked every year since 1982, where pairs of auklets using each box can

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An Invisible Force of Nature

  Located just off the coast of central California, the Farallon Islands rest within one of the most productive ecosystems on the globe: the California Current System (CCS). Perhaps the most influential force that contributes to the immense productivity of this region is wind. Over the last fifty years, biologists and interns stationed on Southeast

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PIGU Shatters Record

For the past 49 years, we have been systematically checking natural and artificial crevices used as breeding sites by a charismatic seabird called the Pigeon Guillemot, or PIGU for short. This species breeds throughout the west coast of North America, from Southern California to Alaska, with one of the largest breeding colonies here on Southeast

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An early start for Cassin’s

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately delayed the arrival of our summer seabird interns, but the birds nevertheless are showing up in big numbers as we progress into the breeding season. The biggest story on the Farallones so far this year is the earliest peak laying on record for Cassin’s auklets. This species is fine

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Le Chonk

This is what happens when a pup gets to nurse off two moms. We like our pups round and chunky here… Here is the same animal after weaning, on the left, compared to a “normal” weaned pup. How many chins can you see?

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Pup Weaning is in Full Swing!

Pup weaning is in full swing here on the Farallon Islands! These curious weaned pups have much to learn and even more fat rolls. Here is the envious daily schedule of our resident weaners: Wake up; Stretch, Scratch, Scream, Sleep, Repeat!

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