Brandt’s Cormorant
Phalacrocorax penicillatus

Physical Description

  • Large black water birds
  • Long body and long neck
  • Adults have white feathers during breeding season, and blue and pale markings below beak
  • Young birds are all dark, with pale-colored chin and chest
  • Medium-sized bill, blunt or hooked at tip


  • Along the Pacific coast in North America
  • Range from Alaska to Gulf of California, with the Canadian population flying south for the winter


  • Found in inshore coastal waters, especially kelp forests
  • Breeding colonies located on gentle slopes on windward sides of islands, or steep cliffs with ledges


  • Mainly fish, sometimes amphibians and crustaceans


  • Cormorant eggs and young are prey for gulls, eagles, and crows

Interesting Facts

  • Cormorants can dive deep underwater for their food, even as deep as 150 feet! Scuba divers sometimes will turn and see a cormorant deep underwater swimming and fishing right next to them!

Sources: Tammy Russell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Audubon Society;; Oceanwide Explorations

Photo: Don Balch

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