Brandt's Cormorant

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Brandt's Cormorant

Phalacrocorax penicillatus
  • ORDER: Suliformes
  • FAMILY: Phalacrocoracidae
Basic Description

The largest cormorant on the Pacific Coast, Brandt’s Cormorant is an expert diver that can swim deeper than 200 feet in pursuit of fish and shellfish. In addition to standard cormorant black, Brandt’s sports a vivid cobalt-blue throat patch and eyes during breeding season, along with wispy white feathers on the head. This species nests and forages in the California Current, an area of rich upwelling between British Columbia, Canada, and Baja California, Mexico. It is on the Yellow Watch List for species with restricted ranges.

More ID Info
image of range map for Brandt's CormorantRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Brandt’s Cormorants inhabit only marine coastlines and estuaries near the ocean, often gathering in large flocks and breeding in colonies. In some coastal cities, breeding Brandt’s Cormorants can be seen on the cliffs along scenic ocean walks. Because they can be far away over the water, a spotting scope can be helpful to distinguish this species from Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants. In flight, the heavy, kinked neck of Double-crested and very thin “broomstick” neck of Pelagic are notably different from the intermediate neck of Brandt’s.

Other Names
  • Cormorán Sargento (Spanish)
  • Cormoran de Brandt (French)
  • Cool Facts