Bird of the Week – Pelagic Cormorant


The Pelagic Cormorant is the smallest and most widely distributed of six cormorant species commonly seen in North America and the four species of cormorant seen in Alaska (we had a look at a Red-faced Cormorant sometime ago).

Pelagic Cormorant, Sitka Sound, Alaska

Pelagic Cormorant, Sitka Sound, Alaska

This is another mis-named bird species. Despite its name, Pelagic Cormorants are in-shore specialists, It feeds primarily on solitary fish and invertebrates on the bottom. It can be difficult in the field to tell a Pelagic from its cousins, the Double-crested, Brandt’s and Red-faced, but with a little practice the smaller size and comparatively small bill are pretty good field marks.

Pelagic Cormorant in Flight, St. Paul Island, Alaska

Pelagic Cormorant in Flight, St. Paul Island, Alaska

Pelagics have an extensive range; WC has seen them at Tin City, on the tip of the Seward Peninsula, and in Baja California. There are about 50,000 breeding pairs in Alaska, a sizable chunk of the world population. Despite its widespread distribution, the Pelagic Cormorant remains poorly studied; it’s a cliff nester and abandons nests if it is disturbed.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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