Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-25

Common name:

Neotropic Cormorant

Scientific name: Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Date: May 15, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm
Length of time observed: 20 min
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Buffalo Ranches Pond, Farmington
County: Davis
Latilong: 4058'42.52"N 11156'20.25"W
Elevation: 4213
Distance to bird: 75 yds
Optical equipment: 8 x 42 binocs
Weather: Sunny, windy, 70
Light Conditions: Full sun
Description:        Size of bird: Gull-sized
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Elongated neck, body, tail
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Blackish
(Description:)            Bill Type: Skinny and gull-like; hooked
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Obviously a cormorant: Long, hooked bill, bare face, blackish plumage, elongated neck, body, tail; thick legs and webbed feet. Swimming appearance with head and neck like a snake emerging out of the water in a gentle, vertical S; body flat, smooth diving behavior without a jump.

Size and Proportions: About 2/3 or less the size of a Double-crested Cormorant standing on a rock about 8 feet away. Both birds leaned into strong southerly winds, posture more horizontal than vertical with tails lifted off rocks providing an outstanding opportunity to compare profiles with matching posture. NECO's tail was longer than 1/2 the length of its body while DCCO's tail was less than 1/2 the length of its body.

NECO's head was smoothly and gently rounded, tapered evenly into neck with no angles or bulkiness. Tail feathers pointed like a spiky fan.

Bare parts: Dark, dusky upper and lower mandibles. Dark lores. Could only perceive a blush of orange at base of gular due to distance, harsh light, feature itself. Large black webbed feet; webbing and toes hung down over front side of rock.

Plumage: Blackish all over, except for a strong white border to the gular pouch. Looked like a white V when the bird turned its head toward me.

Could not see due to distance and harsh light: Eye color, olive tint on mantle/scapulars or shape of scapular feathers, horizontal white filoplumes on side of head.
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Standing on an exposed rock in a shallow pond and faced into strong southerly winds; flying low over the pond and landing in the water, diving a couple times, drifting.
Habitat: Shallow pond between Great Salt Lake wetlands and agricultural lands
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
DCCO: NECO was 2/3 or less the size of a nearby DCCO. Could barely perceive orange on the gular; could easily see bright orange gular and lores on nearby DCCO. Dark lores and white border to gular on NECO, unlike DCCOs. Proportionately longer tail on NECO.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Five or six Neotropic Cormorants since 2008; thousands of DCCOs
References consulted: None
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Kristin Purdy
Observer's address: Ogden, UT
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None on this date, although Norm Jensen reported one at Glover Ponds on April 28 and David Wheeler reported one, seen by many, on March 25. Possibly the same bird.
Date prepared: May 15, 2011
Additional material: