It’s at once horrifying — and fascinating — to behold. And behold it you can, numerous times daily, once the common murres arrive in spring and begin to colonize “Colony Rock” at Yaquina Head.
The murres, of course, arrive there hoping to hatch and rear enough progeny to perpetuate their species. With the eagles watching and waiting hungrily nearby, however, the murres’ challenge is indeed daunting. Numbering tens of thousands strong, one would think the murres could spare a few eagle dinners per day without serious impact. But the drama that unfolds is a complex one, with more predators than merely eagles to worry the murres, and in the end, a surprisingly small number of chicks each year are fortunate to survive.
Pictured above is the first kill this season to happen in front of my camera — there will be more, I’m sure. I’ll post additional aspects of this see-saw battle between life and death as the season progresses, so stay tuned. In the meantime, to see more of the murres’ amazing arrival at Yaquina Head right now, just click to view a couple of videos titled “A Blizzard of Birds.”