Seabird Nest
Colony Monitoring

Portland Audubon organizes this project which provides baseline information on Oregon’s seabird population adjacent to two of Oregon’s Marine Reserves to better understand how marine reserve protections may affect birds. Portland Audubon and partners are monitoring seabird nesting colonies adjacent to two of Oregon’s five Marine Reserve (MR) and and Marine Protected Area (MPA) complexes:

  1. Since 2014 at Cape Perpetua Marine Protected Area & comparison area (Yaquina Head)
  2. Since 2016 at the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve & comparison area (Haystack Rock)

Science: Monitoring breeding success of nearshore piscivorous (fish-eating) seabird populations in the Cape Falcon and Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve & Protected Areas and compare to nearby seabird colonies outside of the MR/MPAs (comparison areas).

Outreach: Promote wider recognition of Oregon’s Marine Reserves and seabird conservation through local community participating, outreach and education.

Monitored nests include those of 3 cormorant species (Brandt’s Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant). Cormorants are common colonial nesters and build grass or stick nests. At Cape Perpetua Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots in Sea Lion Caves are also documented.


  • A subset of cormorant nests in a colony are selected to monitor. Portland Audubon labels these nests on photos so they are easy to relocate.
  • Colonies are monitored weekly from June to September by trained volunteers, a USFWS intern and Portland Audubon scientist.
  • When adult birds get off their nests, eggs or chicks get counted in the nest. Nests that fail (don’t produce chicks) are recorded as well.
  • The size of the chick is estimated to determine the expected date they will be able to fly (fledge).
  • Breeding productivity is calculated as the average number of fledglings produced per nest.
  • Avian predators, whales that pass by and weather conditions also get monitored.


  • In 2019, volunteers and coordinators connected with over 250 visitors about seabird conservation and the Marine Reserves and thousands more through social media.
  • Long-term breeding success data collected for this project is contributing a “bird picture” to ODFW’s ecological monitoring in the Marine Reserves.
  • Data from this project is contributed to USFWS’s long-term seabird monitoring and may help inform future seabird management.

Get a chance to see fuzzy seabird chicks while monitoring seabird nesting colonies in two of Oregon’s five Marine Reserve/Marine Protected Area complexes! Oregon’s marine reserves are “underwater parks” that prohibit any extractive uses (e.g. fishing) in order to conserve marine habitats and biodiversity. Marine Protected Areas allow for some extractive uses.

For more information on this project or express interest in volunteering, please contact Joe Liebezeit at with questions.


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