Bird of the Week – Brandt’s Cormorant

We’ll finish up cormorants with the Brandt’s Cormorant. Unlike the other three, this species breeds only in North America, and reaches the northerly limit of its range at Kodiak Island.

Brandt's Cormorant, St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Brandt’s Cormorant, St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

This species’ life history and populations are tied to the rich upwelling associated with deep upwelling currents like the California Current. Long-term monitoring of the population at Farallon Islands, California, the single largest colony of the species, has helped establish the relationship between breeding success and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which determines the timing and degree of nutrient-rich upwelling, and hence food availability.

It’s pretty easy to tell this species form the other cormorants: look for the yellowish gular (throat) patch.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.