Ancient murrelet dash
One seabird does not return to land to feed its chick. The ancient murrelet only nests on islands around the northern rim of the Pacific such as Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands. But you can really only catch a glimpse of them at night. When they are only two days old the chicks make an astonishing journey. The parents return from the sea at night and call to the chicks from outside the burrow. There are large mice, ravens and eagles that would eat them, so the chicks run to their parents as fast as they can. The parents go ahead of them and continue to call from the sea. By midnight there are chicks swarming all over the forest floor. Most reach the beach within 10 minutes, but their parents are not here. They are now calling from beyond the breakers, so the chicks do not stop, but run into the sea and paddle frantically like clockwork toys. Incredibly, each chick recognises its parent's voice, and the family heads out to the open ocean. The ancient murrelet is the most oceanic of birds. By dawn all the birds are at least four miles out to sea.
Available since: Wed 30 Nov 2011
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