Pelagic Cormorant Life History


Habitat ShorelinesFound in inshore coastal waters. Breeding and roost sites include rocky habitat along outer coast, bays, inlets, estuaries, rapids, coves, surge narrows, harbors, lagoons, and coastal log-storage sites.Back to top


Food FishFish and marine invertebrates.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cliff

Nest Description

Compact shallow bowl of mostly grass and seaweeds, but also mosses, sticks, feathers and general marine debris (including rope, plastic, and other human-made objects); lined with dry vegetation. Placed on narrow ledges on high, steep, inaccessible rocky cliffs, facing the sea.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-8 eggs
Egg Description:Greenish white to bluish.
Condition at Hatching:Naked and helpless.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives from the surface of the water and chases prey under water. Grabs fish in bill, without spearing it.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernPelagic Cormorant appear to have declined between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a population of less than 69,000 breeding birds, lists it as a Species of High Concern, and rates it a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Pelagic Cormorant is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Populations were reduced by human and natural disturbances from 1850 to 1900s. Back to top


Hobson, Keith A. 2013. Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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