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Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus


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Brandt's Cormorant, showing blue of mating plumage
credit: Alan Vernon /CCSA

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Family: Phalacrocoracidae, Cormorants view all from this family

Description ADULT Has blackish plumage; sheen to feather centers on back and upper wings seen only at close range. Bill is dark and throat is yellowish buff. Acquires bluish throat and white streaks on side of neck in breeding season. JUVENILE Has brown plumage, palest on breast; note pale, yellowish throat. Darker, adult plumage is acquired over 3-year period.

Dimensions Length: 33-35" (84-89 cm)

Habitat Locally common on coast, both inshore and offshore.

Observation Tips Widespread on Pacific coast.

Range Western Canada, Northwest, Alaska, California

Voice Mostly silent.

Similar Species Pelagic Cormorant P. pelagicus (L 28-29 in) is slimmer-bodied, with relatively long neck and tail, and daintier bill. Note dark throat and angular head profile, pronounced in breeding adult, which has a tufted crown and crest. Breeding bird also has white rear flanks and dull red skin at base of bill and around eye; face is dark at other times. Juvenile is uniformly dark brown. Locally common on inshore rocky coasts; usually solitary.

Discussion Mainly dark seabird. Swims low in water, its slender neck raised high. Flies with head and neck outstretched. Gregarious at all times. Note rounded head outline. Sexes are similar.