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Species Guide
A photo of a Brandt's Cormorant (Urile penicillatus)
Brandt's Cormorant

Brandt's Cormorant

Urile penicillatus

The Brandt's cormorant, Urile penicillatus, is a marine bird of notable presence along the Pacific coast of North America. With an average weight of 4.6 pounds, a length of approximately 34 inches, and a wingspan reaching 4 feet, this bird is a sight to behold. During the breeding season, adults are distinguished by a striking blue throat patch.

Identification Tips

To identify Brandt's cormorant, look for its dark plumage and the characteristic blue throat patch present in adults during the breeding season. Additionally, white plumes may adorn their neck and back in the early breeding season, reminiscent of a painter's brush.


Brandt's cormorants are found in coastal environments such as bays, estuaries, and lagoons. They are known to nest on the ground or on rocky outcroppings, favoring locations like Año Nuevo Island in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


This species graces the Pacific coast from Alaska to the Gulf of California in the summer months. However, those residing north of Vancouver Island tend to migrate southward as winter approaches.


Brandt's cormorants are gregarious birds, often seen in groups. Their breeding season spans from March to August, during which they typically lay four eggs. Both parents are involved in the nurturing of their young.

Diet and Feeding

A diet of fish such as herring and rockfish sustains the Brandt's cormorant, though they may also consume shrimp and crabs. Remarkable divers, they can plunge over 200 feet deep in pursuit of prey, hunting either solitarily or in flocks. Their foraging can take them to depths exceeding 120 feet, where they use their feet for propulsion in a display of underwater agility.

Conservation status

The Brandt's cormorant is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

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