Brandt's cormorant

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Brandt's cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Phalacrocorax
Species: P. penicillatus
Binomial name
Phalacrocorax penicillatus
(Brandt, 1837)

The Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter. Its specific name, penicillatus is Latin for a painter's brush (pencil of hairs), in reference to white plumes on its neck and back during the early breeding season. The common name honors the German naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt of the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg, who described the species from specimens collected on expeditions to the Pacific during the early 19th century.

Brandt's cormorants feed either singly or in flocks, and are adaptable in prey choice and undersea habitat. It feeds on small fish from the surface to sea floor, obtaining them, like all cormorants, by pursuit diving using its feet for propulsion. Prey is often what is most common: in central California, rockfish from the genus Sebastes is the most commonly taken, but off British Columbia, it is Pacific herring. Brandt's cormorants have been observed foraging at depths of over 40 feet.

During the breeding season, adults have a blue throat patch. This species nests on the ground or on rocky outcroppings.

Adult showing blue throat patch characteristic of breeding plumage
1859 illustration

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