Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pelagic Cormorant

We arrived at our destination, Olympia, Washington, and, the next day, drove to Seattle. We avoided car-clogged I-5 by taking the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. Although photography was challenging from the rocking, vibrating ferry, I was able to add a few species to the birds covered in this blog.

The first bird is the Pelagic Cormorant, a common species of the north Pacific.  It ranges from the Arctic to Baja California and to southern China.  Despite its name, the Pelagic Cormorant prefers inshore marine waters, making Puget Sound a perfect place to look for them.  Although not always evident, these small cormorants, especially in flight, usually show white flank spots.  The white plumes in the bird above are indicative of breeding plumage.

Pelagic Cormorants tend to be more solitary than other cormorants. They feed by swimming under water and feeding on fish (which they grab with their bills, rather than spearing) and benthic invertebrates. Like all cormorants, these birds are at risk of oils spills, ocean pollution, and being tangled in fishing nets (Hobson 1997; All About Birds).

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