Upright-perching Water Birds

Brandt's Cormorant Brandt's Cormorant
Phalacrocorax penicillatus


33-35" (84-89 cm). A solidly built cormorant, thick-necked and large-headed, black with little gloss. Breeding birds have bright cobalt-blue throat pouch bordered with yellow, and slender white plumes on face and back. Young birds are duller, buff colored on breast. Double-crested Cormorant similar, but flies with more of a crook in its neck and has conspicuous orange throat pouch. Pelagic is smaller and more slender, with smaller head; adult has white flank patches.


Croaks and grunts.


Coastal or offshore rocks and waters near shore.


3-6 chalky bluish eggs in a large nest of seaweed or other debris. Nests in colonies on cliffs and rocky islands.


Resident along Pacific Coast from southeastern Alaska south to Baja California.


Brandt's Cormorants often gather in flocks of several hundred and fly to feeding grounds in long straggling lines. This species and the Pelagic Cormorant frequently nest on the same cliffs, with Brandt's forming colonies on level ground at the top of the cliff and the Pelagic choosing inaccessible ledges. Nest robbing by Western Gulls is such a serious problem that nests are rarely left unguarded.