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An Imperial Beach Hidden Gem and Bird of the Week, the Brandt's Cormorant

Dec 05, 2018 03:17PM ● By Paul Spear

An Imperial Beach Hidden Gem and Bird of the Week, Bryan Brillhart Photography present the “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the Brandt's Cormorant

 “Bird of the Week”. This week’s bird is the "Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)”. The column will provide a picture of a bird(s) locally photographed and we will have background on the bird. 

If you would like to see more of Bryan's Bird Photos you can click on this link:

Bryan Brillhart Photography

“Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the “Brandt's cormorant

This weeks “Bird of the Week” is Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus), a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of 

 seabirds inhabiting the Pacific coast of North America. Their habitat is almost always on salt water, entering brackish water at the mouths of estuaries. It may forage fairly close to shore or well out at sea. It nests on islands and locally on mainland, mostly on slopes rather than ledges of vertical cliffs. 

It is reportedly able to dive deep, perhaps more than 150' below surface. It forages singly or in groups, sometimes in association with sea lions, and may forage at all levels from near surface to near bottom, perhaps mostly the latter.

It lays 4, sometimes 3-6 whitish to pale blue eggs, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by both sexes, incubation period is unknown. Both parents feed young, by regurgitation.

Its diet is mostly fish, eating a wide variety of fish, including herring, rockfish; also some 

 shrimp, crabs.

It breeds in colonies. The male chooses nest site and displays there to ward off rivals and attract a mate. Displays include drawing its head back with a blue throat pouch extended and its bill pointed upward, spreading the tail, and fluttering its wings; also thrusting the head forward and downward in rapid repeated strokes. Its nest is on ground, either level or steeply sloped. Nest is a mound of seaweed, eelgrass, algae, cemented by droppings. Most nest material is obtained underwater; the male doing most of gathering, the female does most of building. A pair may use same nest every year, adding to it annually.

 Brandt’s Cormorant can usually be spotted on the beach, near the Tijuana River mouth. They are fast fliers, so you have to be alert to catch a good view of them. Get out and explore the Tijuana Estuary and walk our wonderful beach to see this bird and the many others that frequent IB.

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