Xantus’s Murrelet Breeds only on the Channel Islands of southern California and Los Coronados Islands, Guadalupe Island and San Benito Islands of Baja California. The total population is small, perhaps only 7000 birds, apportioned among 2 subspecies (Unitt, 2004).
The scrippsi race nest through most of the species’ range and is the subspecies occurring most frequently off San Diego, most numerous in SoCal waters during the breeding season from March – July (Unitt, 2004) but can be seen offshore San Diego anytime of the year.
The hypoleucus race breeds on Guadalupe Island and the San Benito Islands off southern Baja and occurs rarely in summer and fall, recorded from 3 Jul to 4 Dec (Unitt, 2004).
2007: 3 from Condor Express 21 Apr (eBird). 6 off San Diego 31 Mar (McCaskie, SDBirds). 245 in the Channel Islands 9 June. 20 off San Diego 11 Jun. 4 off San Diego 24 Jun (Povey, SDBirds).
2008: 2 off San Diego 19 Jan (Hunefeld, SDBirds). 20 between San Diego and Coronados Islands 9-10 Feb from Grande. 87 between San Diego and Coronados Islands 25 Mar (Povey, SDBirds). 39 off San Diego 10-11 May from Grande. 25 from Searcher2-5 Jun. 22 (12 hypoleucus, 10 scrippsi) off San Diego 19-20 Jul. No records Aug-Sep off San Diego. 3 (2 hypoleucus and 1 scrippsi) off San Diego from Grande4-5 Oct. 4 (2 hypoleucus and 2 scrippsi)1-2 Nov from Grande was the last record off San Diego for the year.
2009: A pair of scrippsi was off La Jolla on the 25th annual SDFO New Year's Day pelagic. 2 scrippsi off Dana Point 10 Jan. 2 scrippsi at Nine Mile Bank San Diego28 Jan. 2 off Oceanside 31 Jan. 22 off Santa Barbara 1 Mar from Condor Express. 62 on 3 pelagic trips of San Diego Bird Festival between San Diego and the Coronados Islands. 74 off San Diego 20 Mar. 23 off San Diego from Grande4 Apr. 37 off San Diego included 2 hypoleucus 9-10 May from Grande. 5 scrippsi off San Diego 12 Jun. 2 hypoleucus and 4 scrippsi from Condor Express25 Jul. 6 from Searcher10 Sep included one hypoleucus. 7 hypoleucus from Grande10-11 Oct were the last Xantus's recorded in San Diego for the year except for 4 scrippsi3 Dec.
2010: (All scrippsi unless otherwise noted) 43 on 3 day-trips 4-7 Mar on San Diego Bird Festival. 33 off San Diego & Baja 14 Mar. 16 at Nine Mile (Dave Povey) on Apr 8. 36 from Grande on Nine Mile Apr 17. 12 from Condore Express May 1. 19 from Grande May 15-17. 8 on Nine Mile Bank May 26 (Dave Povey). 20 from Searcher May 29. 10 from Condor Express Jun 12. 5 hypoleucus from Condor Express Jul 31. 9 hypoleucus from Searcher Sep 8-9. 6 hypoleucus from Grande Oct 2-4. One hypoleucus from Grande Oct 9.
2011: The San Diego Bird Festival had 4 day trips to the Nine Mile Bank and Coronados Islands Mar 3-6 with a high count of 32 on Mar 5. 6 were seen between Santa Barbara and the Rodriguez Dome from the Condor Express on Apr 30. 6 were seen near the Nine Mile Bank off San Diego on May 6. 21 were reported between the Nine Mile Bank and Thirty Mile Bank San Diego from Grande May 14. 25 seen from Searcher May 30 near the Los Coronados Islands.
Xantus's hypoleucus (c) Trent Stanley
Xantus's scrippsi (c) Matt Sadowski
Craveri’s Murrelet Irregularly common to rare in SoCal, late July – early Oct, far offshore; none are seen in many years. (McGrath & Feenstra, 2005). Recorded in San Diego only in late summer and early fall (Unitt, 2004).
One found on beach in Coronado 19 May 2006 (McCaskie & Garrett, 2006).
2007: 6 offshore San Diego (20 n mi offshore Imperial Beach in Mex waters) 25 Jul (SDBirds).
2008: One 90 miles west of San Diego 20 Jul from Grande 4 seen & 2 photographed off San Diego 4 Oct from Grande in Mexican & US waters (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett).
2009: One from Searcher7 Sep. 2 off San Diego from Grande3 Oct.
Craveri's Murrelet (c) Tom Blackman
Craveri"s Murrelet (c) Steve N.G. Howell
Marbled Murrelet Rare winter vagrant (McGrath & Feenstra, 2005). Up to 3 seen at Point Piedras Blancas 20-26 Mar 2005. (McCaskie & Garrett, 2005). One at Vandenberg Air Force Base 12 Aug 2006 and one in Santa Barbara 31 October 2006 (McCaskie & Garrett, 2007). 13 along the coast of San Luis Obispo during Jun 2007 (McCaskie & Garrett, 2008).
2008: One in San Pedro Los Angeles 19 Mar and two near Ventura were unusually far south (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett). An adult near Piedras Blancas 7 Jul was early this far south. (NAB, McCaskie & Garret). 2 near Ventura 27 Dec were south of the species' normal range (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett).
2009: Three off Port San Luis San Luis Obispo 17 Jan (Edell, slocobirding).
Ancient Murrelet Winter visitor arriving in SoCal waters Oct-Nov (McGrath & Feenstra, 2005). San Diego is the southern limit of their winter range (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett). Numbers build from Nov - Jan, then decline Feb-Mar. They occur in SoCal in small numbers in many years, even rarely in summer (Sealy & Carter, 2004).
2007: One from Condor Express 21 Apr (eBird). 2 at San Simeon 2-3 Jun, 2 near there 16 Jun, 2 at Guadalupe Beach Santa Barbara 7 Jun (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett). One at La Jolla Cove San Diego Nov-Dec 2007 (SDBirds). One photographed 15 Dec on the San Diego Christmas bird count 2 n. miles off Point Loma.
2008: One found on Mission Beach San Diego 11 Feb (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett). Two in Baja Mex at Puerto Nuevo 1 Mar (NAB, Erickson, et al). One off Point Loma San Diego 10 May was unusually late (NAB, McCaskie & Garrett).
2009: 3 off Port San Luis San Luis Obispo 17 Jan (Edell, slocobirding), 9 in sam area 24 Jan.
2010: Several reported from shore in northern Santa Barbara County week of Nov 15 (Paul Lehman). One photographed 9 Nov from La Jolla San Diego (Matt Sadowski, SDBirds) (NAB, McCaskie & Garret) and two more from La Jolla 25 Nov (Doug Aguillard, SDBirds) may have been associated with the large flight of Common Murre (NAB, McCaskie & Garret). One at the Imperial Beach San Diego pier the week reported on Dec 1 (SDBirds, Ann Hannon and Shellie Matson) hung around for at least 4 days.
Ancient Murrelet 15 Dec 2007 San Diego Christmas Bird Count (c) W. Terry Hunefeld
Many sightings contain hyperlinks tied directly to detailed Trip Reports. More frequent sightings may not contain hyperlinks, but still have detailed trip reports with more documentation and locations; click on Trip Reports in the left column.
NAB, Erickson, et al: North American Birds - Baja Mexico reports, edited by Erickson, et al. Published quarterly by the American Birding Association.
NAB, McCaskie & Garrett: North American Birds - Southern California reports, edited by Guy McCaskie and Kimball Garrett. Published quarterly by the American Birding Association.
Status and distribution data (c) 2008 - 2011 W. Terry Hunefeld
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