Photo: Arthur Morris/Vireo

Red-faced Cormorant

Phalacrocorax urile

This Alaskan specialty nests on islands in cold seas, associating with a wide variety of other seabirds. The bright red bare skin of its face becomes duller in winter. In recent years the Red-faced Cormorant has been increasing in numbers, expanding its range eastward along the coast of southern Alaska.
Conservation status Population in Aleutians thought to have been increasing for several decades. Since late 1950s has expanded range east along south coast of Alaska, becoming very common east to Prince William Sound. Despite increase, remains vulnerable to oil spills and other pollution.
Family Cormorants
Habitat Ocean, coast, islands. Spends most of its time close to shore in cool ocean waters, favoring rocky bays, straits between islands. Nests on rocky islands or coasts, on ledges of cliffs or steep slopes.
This Alaskan specialty nests on islands in cold seas, associating with a wide variety of other seabirds. The bright red bare skin of its face becomes duller in winter. In recent years the Red-faced Cormorant has been increasing in numbers, expanding its range eastward along the coast of southern Alaska.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult, nonbreeding
  • juvenile
Feeding Behavior

See family introduction. Solitary in foraging; may feed near bottom in rocky areas.


Eggs

3-4. Bluish white, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by both sexes, probably about 31-34 days. Young: probably fed by both parents. Age at which young leave nest estimated at 50-60 days.


Young

probably fed by both parents. Age at which young leave nest estimated at 50-60 days.

Diet

Mostly fish. Feeds on a variety of fish, especially sculpins, also pollack, sand lance, others. Also eats crustaceans including crabs, shrimp, amphipods.


Nesting

Breeds in mixed colonies with other seabirds. In display, male perches with head over back, bill pointed up, moving head up and down, while quickly raising and lowering tips of folded wings so that white patches on flanks are rapidly covered and exposed, appearing to flash on and off. Nest: site is on ledge (wide or narrow) of cliff or steep slope above water. Nest is mound of grass, seaweed, moss, debris, with deep hollow in center, sometimes lined with feathers. Nest may be re-used in subsequent years.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Mostly permanent resident. Very rare straggler away from nesting areas (though may winter away from breeding sites in Kuril Islands, north of Japan).

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Migration

Mostly permanent resident. Very rare straggler away from nesting areas (though may winter away from breeding sites in Kuril Islands, north of Japan).

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A low korr. Hoarse croaking notes at breeding colonies.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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