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Pelagic Cormorant


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Pelagic Cormorant Photo

The Pelagic Cormorant is a small, slender cormorant of the Pacific Coast. Although it is exclusively marine in habits, its name is misleading, since it prefers inshore areas rather than the open ocean.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
20.1–29.9 in
51–76 cm
39.4–47.6 in
100–121 cm
48.3–86.1 oz
1370–2440 g
Other Names
  • Baird's Cormorant
  • Cormoran Pélagique (French)
  • Cormorán Pelágico, Pato sargento (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Pelagic Cormorant uses its own guano to solidify its nest materials and to cement its nest to the cliff face.
  • The Pelagic Cormorant is among the least gregarious or social of the cormorants, nesting on steep cliffs along rocky and exposed shorelines, either in loose colonies or far from nearest neighbors.
  • The oldest recorded Pelagic Cormorant was at least 17 years, 10 months old when it was found in British Columbia.



Found 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.



Fish and marine invertebrates.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–8 eggs
Egg Description
Greenish white to bluish.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
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.

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Dives from the surface of the water and chases prey under water. Grabs fish in bill, without spearing it.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Pelagic 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.


Range Map Help

Pelagic Cormorant Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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