Pelagic Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pelagicus

Although generally regarded as a non-breeding resident of the Pribilof Islands there is at least one definite nesting record for this species from Saint George, Pelagic Cormorants, mostly immature birds, are year-round residents (whether specific individuals remain year round is unknown) in the Pribilofs. This species breeds all around the American and Russian coasts of the Bering Sea, and along the Aleutians. The common breeding cormorant in the Pribilofs is the larger, but closely related, Red-faced Cormorant. The separation of these two species is relatively straightforward given close views. Focus first on the birds overall shape. Pelagic cormorants are slightly slimmer with decidedly small heads that are barely wider than their necks. Red-faced Cormorants are more bulky, with blockier heads that are noticeably thicker than their necks. Bill color is also a reliable indicator, as all ages (except fledglings) of Red-faced Cormorants have pale horn to yellow colored bills, while Pelagics have thinner, all dark bills. Pelagic Cormorants are not generally seen sitting on nesting cliffs, but can regularly be found in roosting groups of Red-faced Cormorants. Good places to search are the rocky shoreline near Marunich, the perimeter of Northeast Point, Sea Lion Rock and Southwest Point.