Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Cormorant ID Question

Seward, Alaska

PELAGIC CORMORANTS like to rest and preen on some old pilings at the back of the SMIC boat basin at the end of Nash Road. Today, I decided to take a closer look. I noticed at least three had a light-colored bill that was thicker than the thin, dark bill of the Pelagic. The birds were also a bit larger. Could they be RED-FACED CORMORANTS?

There was no red on the face, however, like a winter plumaged adult RED-FACED CORMORANT. Unlike a brownish juvenile, the birds had very glossy greenish and purple iridescence like adults. It takes two years to develop adult plumage; could this be a second year Red-faced Cormorant?

Which characteristics are more important: the light-colored thicker bill of the Red-faced vs the thin, dark bill of the Pelagic? Or the reddish face patch of the Red-faced vs dark, dull face of the Pelagic in both winter adult plumages?

Could size variations account for the differences in the birds I saw today? Were they all PELAGIC CORMORANTS?

I'd be interested to know, if anyone would like to comment.

Also spotted: 1 male LONG-TAILED DUCK, several SURF SCOTERS, 4 HORNED GREBES, 2 COMMON LOONS, and a smattering of HARLEQUIN DUCKS.

Yesterday at dusk around 4:45 pm at Lowell Point, a GREAT HORNED OWL hooted from the spruce near the lower parking lot.

Ava reported 5-6 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS under her feeders a few days ago.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. I saw a bird that looked EXACTLY like these in San Francisco (yes, San Francisco, California) in Sept. 2012. It was never conclusively identified, despite posting on ID-Frontiers (where I got an uncertain 50-50 split of opinions between the two common local sea cormorants, Pelagic and Brandt's). Your photos have encouraged me to submit photos of my bird to the CA records committee as a Red-faced Cormorant.