Craveri’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri) is a small seabird which breeds on offshore islands in both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California off the Baja peninsula of Mexico. It also wanders fairly regularly as far as central California in the USA, primarily during post-breeding dispersal. It is threatened by predators introduced to its breeding colonies, by oil spills, and by tanker traffic. Increasing tourism development and commercial fishing fleets also further threaten the species. With an estimated population of 6,000-10,000 breeding pairs, its population is listed as vulnerable.
Description and range
The Craveri’s murrelet is a small black and white auk with a small head and thin sharp bill. It resembles the closely related Xantus's murrelet, with which it shares the distinction of being the most southerly living of all the auk species. The Craveri’s murrelet has a partial neck collar (Xantus’s has none), and dusky underwings (Xantus’s has white underwings). Craver’s black face mask dips a bit further down the face compared to the Xantus’s. Both species can be also separated by voice.
Craveri's murrelet feeds far out at sea on larval fish such as herring, rockfish, and lanternfish. Like all auks it is a wing-propelled diver, chasing down prey under the water with powerful wingbeats. It flies well, and can take off without taxiing.
The Craveri's murrelet nests in small crevices, caves and under dense bushes on arid islands in loose scattered colonies. It returns to the colony only at night, laying two eggs which are incubated for about a month. Like other murrelets of the genus Synthliboramphus (like the ancient murrelet) the chicks are highly precocial, leaving the nest within two days of hatching and running actively towards the sea, where the parents call to them. Once at sea the family swims to offshore waters. Little is known about the time at sea due to difficulties in studying them.
Craveri's murrelet is considered by some to be one of the more endangered species of auk. It is threatened by offshore oil drilling and tanker traffic. Increased tourist developments and birds getting caught in nets from commercial fishing operations also pose a danger. It is also threatened by introduced species such as mice, rats and feral cats; this threat has been lessened lately by efforts to restore its habitat by removing introduced predators.
This species was described, named and dedicated to Federico Craveri and Ettore Craveri by the ornithologist Tommaso Salvadori, in acknowledgment of the fact that the Craveri brothers had enriched the Turin Museum of Natural History with many species of birds of Mexico and California.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Synthliboramphus craveri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Storrs L. Olson The name of the Craveri' brothers Murrelet Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560
- Gaston, Anthony; Jones, Ian (1998). The Auks, Alcidae. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-854032-9
- "National Geographic" Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
- Seabirds, an Identification Guide by Peter Harrison, (1983) ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
- Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 3, Josep del Hoyo editor, ISBN 84-87334-20-2
- "National Audubon Society" The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6
- BirdLife Species Factsheet.
- Stamps (for Mexico) with RangeMap
- Craveri's Murrelet photo gallery VIREO
- Photo-Med Res; Article montereyseabirds.com