The Alcidae is a diverse family of seabirds that can be found throughout cooler pelagic waters of the northern hemisphere and includes the murres, guillemots, auklets, murrelets, and puffins.
Southern California hosts a variety of species including several local breeders and others that disperse here seasonally from regions to the north and south. In total, more than half of the world’s 25 alcid species have been documented off Southern California. While a few species can be seen regularly from land, intrepid birders wanting to experience these birds must join pelagic trips to have a chance to find most of the species that occupy these waters.
Identification can be challenging because some species are similar in appearance, and many avoid boats by diving or flying away quickly. Getting good looks at these small birds in a big ocean is often not easy and requires an extreme amount of patience. Due to their seasonality and the rareness of some, it will take more than a few trips offshore to find the majority of our local species.
Join Dave as he navigates us the identification challenges of the Alcid family.
Here is a video of the talk: