Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-61a

Common name:

Neotropic Cormorant

Scientific name: Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Date: 07/20/13
Time: 10:20 am
Length of time observed: 20 minutes, on and off
Number: 1
Age: unknown
Sex: unknown
Location: Logan Fish Hatchery Pond; viewed from pullout along north side of Utah Hwy 30.
County: Cache
Elevation: 4450 ft.
Distance to bird: 100 m
Optical equipment: Leica 8x50 binoculars, Leica Televid 77mm spotting scope
Weather: Clear, calm, seasonable. 70-75 F
Light Conditions: Bird was relatively well lit, but the sun was already high in the sky. It was not behind the bird.
Description:        Size of bird: Smaller than nearby Double-crested Cormorant
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Waterbird
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Generally no strong contrast; uniformly dark brown, almost blackish.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Piscivirous
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
A small cormorant, smaller than the Double-crested Cormorant it was standing next to for some of the period it was observed. The photos I took (digiscoped), although grainy, show that the bird has a yellowish bill with whitish edging on the rear of the bill, and also seem to show a triangular rear edge to the bill (although this seems difficult to see); the eye appears green. The bird does not appear to have a crest or filoplumes; it also appears to be either the same size or smaller than the California Gulls it is standing next to, although this may be due to the bird's posture, because it is supposed to be larger (25") from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail than California Gull (21"). In at least two photos, the bird appears uniformly dark brown, and lacks the contrast between the chest and the rest of the underparts that is often apparent on Double-crested Cormorant. The tail appears to be about 1/3 the total length of the bird, from bill tip t!
o tail tip. Legs and feet appeared grayish; the feet were webbed.
Song or call & method of delivery: No vocalizations.
Behavior: Bird spent much of its time waddling around on shore; jumped into water once, and flew once, only to return a few minutes later.
Habitat: Bird was perched on shore, adjacent to standing water.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Size relative to the nearby California Gulls and Double-crested Cormorant eliminated all other cormorant species. Red-faced, Pelagic, and Brandt's Cormorants were also eliminated because of differences in coloration and soft parts, particularly on the face, and because they are pelagic, with few (none?) inland records. Great Cormorant was eliminated on the basis of size differences, range, and known vagrancy - it is basically an East Coast species; also this bird was far too small to be a Great Cormorant. Double-crested Cormorant was eliminated on the basis of the white border at the rear of the bill, the relatively long tail, the lack of contrast between the breast and the rest of the underparts, and the birds size relative to the nearby California Gulls and Double-crested Cormorant.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this species once before in Utah; have also seen it several other times in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. I also discussed the bird's identification with Ryan O'Donnell via e-mail.
References consulted: Sibley's Western Guide.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Craig R. Fosdick
Observer's address: PO Box 443, Logan, UT, 84323-0443
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: No other observers identified this bird at this time; however several other birders had already seen it at this location, including Ryan O'Donnell, who originally located and identified it.
Date prepared: 07/22/13
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: The photos provided may be used in reports and publications by the Records Committee, but remain the property of Craig R. Fosdick. The eBird checklist containing this sighting is here: