Local redwood forests, and the people who visit them, are intertwined with the fate of the marbled murrelet (MER-let). These mysterious seabirds spend most of their life on the ocean, however, mated pairs journey inland each spring to nest in ancient forests. This July, biologists begin a two-year study in Midpen preserves to determine what areas they nest in.

Marbled murrelets lay a single egg on wide, mossy limbs high up in old-growth trees. The unconventional location of their nests remained North America’s last great ornithological mystery, despite more than a century of searching by scientists. It was finally solved in 1974 by a tree worker named Hoyt Foster at nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Foster made history when he encountered a strange chick with webbed feet while cutting limbs high up in a Douglas fir after a freak snow storm.

We know that food and garbage left behind by visitors attracts ravens and jays that eat marbled murrelet eggs and chicks. You can help by keeping it “crumb clean” while out enjoying your local forests this summer. Please remember there are no trash cans on Midpen preserves. Clean up all food waste and trash, and never feed wildlife.