|Conservation status||Total population is limited. Its rugged and remote range protects it from most direct human impacts, but climate change may be a serious threat: it often feeds near glaciers that come down to the sea, and those glaciers are receding. Would be vulnerable to spills and other pollution in coastal waters.|
|Family||Auks, Murres, Puffins|
|Habitat||Ocean, glacier waters; nests on barren slopes in coastal mountains. Found on cold sea waters, mostly in calm, protected bays and among islands. Usually fairly close to shore. Nests on islands and mainland, on steep barren mountainsides, talus slopes, rock slides, sometimes near glaciers.|
Forages while swimming underwater. Does most feeding in cold waters fairly close to shore, probably where relatively shallow.
One. Pale olive with brown and gray spots. Incubation probably by both sexes, but details (including length of incubation period) unknown. Young: Probably fed at nest site by parent(s) for at least 2-3 weeks. Some young then may travel along streams and rivers to reach sea, probably before old enough to fly strongly; others may fly directly from nest to ocean.
Probably fed at nest site by parent(s) for at least 2-3 weeks. Some young then may travel along streams and rivers to reach sea, probably before old enough to fly strongly; others may fly directly from nest to ocean.
Not well known. Has a shorter bill than that of Marbled Murrelet, suggesting a different diet; known to eat small crustaceans, and possibly eats fewer fish than Marbled Murrelet.
Solitary in breeding, on islands and mainland; few details known. Nest site is on ground on steep rocky slope with little vegetation, often 1000-3000' above sea level and several miles inland from ocean (can be more than 45 miles inland). Often at base of large rock, and may be fairly near stream flowing toward ocean. No nest built, egg laid on bare rock or ground.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Mostly permanent resident, although must leave northernmost breeding areas in western Alaska in winter (when seas freeze solid). Extremely rare straggler south of southeastern Alaska.
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLow-pitched groaning call.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Kittlitz's Murrelet
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Kittlitz's Murrelet
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.