Friday, July 20, 2012

Brandt's Cormorant

The next stop on our western road-trip was La Jolla, California. One reason to visit this city is to get close-up views of Brandt's Cormorants. These cormorants, with their diagnostic blue throats, are endemic to North America. They breed on the west coast from Vancouver Island, British Columbia south to Baja California. The species winters in coastal areas both to the north (to central Alaska) and south (to central Mexico) of the breeding range.

La Jolla, California is the only mainland nesting site for this cormorant in southern California. The birds breed asynchronously on the ocean-side cliffs within La Jolla almost all year, from December through September. Here they are common, but remain at risk from commercial fishing, pollutants, and human recreation (Wallace and Wallace 1998).

The Brandt's Cormorant is named for a Russian naturalist.  Brandt described the species from a specimen in a St. Petersburg museum collected from an unknown location by an unknown naturalist.

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