Family Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Least Concern

Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)


French: Cormoran de Brandt German: Pinselscharbe Spanish: Cormorán sargento

Carbo penicillatus

J. F. Brandt

, 1837,

no locality


Sometimes placed in genus Compsohalieus. Monotypic.


Breeds along Pacific coast of North America from extreme SW Canada (Vancouver I) S to NW Mexico (Baja California). In winter extends N to Alaska (Prince William Sound) and S through much of Gulf of California.

Descriptive notes

84–89 cm; c. 2450 g; wingspan c. 124 cm. Short-tailed, rather large crestless cormorant. Breeding adult has head, neck and most of body black with bottle-green to dull... read more


Croaking and growling/grunting sounds typical of genus; sharp “kauk” call, repeated at intervals of... read more


Marine; restricted to rocky coasts and islands in region of California Current. Forages over rocky... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fish, both schooling and non-schooling. Typical prey species include rockfish (Sebastes), Chromis punctipinnis,... read more


Laying mainly in Mar–Jul, earlier towards S of range; in at least some areas adults breed intermittently, e.g. on Southeast Farallon... read more


Sedentary. Dispersal in autumn, with birds occurring S as far as Mazatlán (W Mexico).

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant. Bulk of population in California, in SW USA, with 64,210 breeding birds in 1970s, and possibly increasing... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 January 2018).