A Black-footed Albatross like the one pictured here can have the wingspan of a Bald Eagle.

Birds of Nakusp visits Oregon coast seabirds

While in Oregon recently, I went on a boat trip to look for seabirds, a large group of birds that is unfamiliar to most people.

While in Oregon recently, I went on a boat trip to look for seabirds. This is a very large group of birds that is completely unfamiliar to most people.

I suppose most people have heard of an albatross, but how many know that there are close to 20 different species; or that there are over 70 species in the petrels and shearwater family, and another 25 in the auks, murres and puffins family. There are many millions of birds roaming the world’s oceans whose only contact with land is for breeding, and most choose very remote rocky islets for that purpose.

Knowing that birders aren’t averse to spending some money to see new birds, there are many companies that run charter trips well off-shore for the purpose of looking for these ocean wanderers. One such trip ran from Newport, Oregon while we were there. The trip began at 7 a.m. and took us about 50 kilometres out to sea.

Oceans are huge, and there is never any guarantee that birds will be found in any numbers, but there’s always something out there to see!

On this particular trip, the most common bird we saw was the Sooty Shearwater; over 6,000 were encountered during the day. Nothing else approached these numbers but we did see significant numbers of several other sea-bird species: 25 Black-footed Albatross; 11 Northern Fulmar; 55 Pink-footed Shearwater; 4 Buller’s Shearwater; 3 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel; 2 South Polar Skua; 6 Marbled Murrelet; 12 Cassin’s Auklet and the highlight of the trip – two Scripp’s Murrelet. This last species was significant because it is not common, and its small size makes it very difficult to find. At the first sign of trouble, it just dives and gets lost in the waves. This species was new to about 75 per cent of the birders on the boat, including myself.

In total, about 40 species were seen during the trip. Many of these are not strictly ocean-going birds, and are sometimes seen from shore. Despite the fact that the Scripp’s was a “lifer” for me, I still find the albatrosses the highlight of any ocean birding trip. Their exceedingly long wings allow them to soar on the wind effortlessly for hours. One species, the Wandering Albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird in the world. This varies from 2.5 to 3.5 metres depending on the age and sex of the bird. Compare this to the wing span of a Bald Eagle which ranges from 1.8 to 2.3 metres. The wing span of the Black-footed Albatross seen on this trip is about the same as the Bald Eagle.


One of the other benefits of ocean birding trip is the possibility of seeing whales and dolphins. On our trip we saw only one whale, a Minke Whale. We also saw Harbour Porpoise, Steller’s Sea Lion, California Sea Lion, Northern Fur Seal and Harbour Seal. And best of all – nobody got sea-sick this time!



Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Doukhobor Heritage Society seeks zoning change for water plant

Questions remain on how taking 500,000 litres a day from aquifer would affect local water supply

Judgment reserved in Nakusp school sex trial

Trial concluded today with lawyer’s summations

Former teacher acquitted on two of four sex charges

Judge found no evidence to support sexual assault charges against Shanny McIvor

New Denver emergency ward to remain 24/7

Interior Health says it’s postponing changes to operating hours.

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Dryer incident at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read