Red-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax urile)

Red-faced Cormorant

[order] SULIFORMES | [family] Phalacrocoracidae | [latin] Phalacrocorax urile | [UK] Red-faced Cormorant | [FR] Cormoran a face rouge | [DE] Rotgesicht-Scharbe | [ES] Cormoran Carirrojo | [NL] Roodmaskeraalscholver


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Phalacrocorax urile PO n coasts


The cosmopolitan genus Phalacrocorax of the Suliformes family includes thirty-five species frequenting coasts and islands. The face and throat are naked; the bill is long, and the upper mandible much curved at the point, while the lower supports a dilatable membrane which forms a gular pouch. The legs are short, strong, and abdominal, with three toes in front and one behind, all united; the claw of the middle toe is pectinated and probably used to dress the plumage and to free the bird from insect pests. The wings are of moderate length, and the tail-feathers stiff and rigid. Many of the species develop crests or wattles in the breeding season. These birds feed exclusively on fish. All Cormorants, Shags and Darters have a small bone at the back of the skull, the occipital style. This bone is flexibly attached to the skull and is supposed to have a function for the grasping ability of these birds. The ramphotecal coating of the bills of the cormorants are divided in plates, very much like those of the tubenoses, without visible nostrils.

Physical charateristics

Note the bright red of the adult’s face (extending to forehead and behind eye). Throat pouch bluish; bill pale. Otherwise, similar to Pelagic Cormorant, which has a dull red pouch, restricted dull red on face; thinner bill.
Differs from Pelagic in having a thicker pale bill.

wingspan min.: 110 cm wingspan max.: 120 cm
size min.: 71 cm size max.: 79 cm
incubation min.: 31 days incubation max.: 38 days
fledging min.: 40 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Pacific Ocean : North coasts


Ocean, coast, islands. Spends most of its time close to shore in cool ocean waters, favoring rocky bays, straits between islands. Nests on rocky islands or coasts, on ledges of cliffs or steep slopes.


Breeds in mixed colonies with other seabirds. In display, male perches with head over back, bill pointed up, moving head up and down, while quickly raising and lowering tips of folded wings so tha
t white patches on flanks are rapidly covered and exposed, appearing to flash on and off.
Nest: Site is on ledge (wide or narrow) of cliff or steep slope above water. Nest is mound of grass, seaweed, moss, debris, with deep hollow in center, sometimes lined with feathers. Nest may be reused in subsequent years.
Clutch 3-4. Bluish white, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by both sexes, probably about 31-34 days.
Young: Probably fed by both parents. Age at which young leave nest estimated at 50-60 days. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly fish. Feeds on a variety of fish, especially sculpins, also pollack, sand lance, others. Also eats crustaceans including crabs, shrimp, amphipods.
Behavior: Forages by diving from surface and swimming underwater, propelled by feet. Solitary in foraging; may feed near bottom in rocky areas. Eyes adapted for vision in water as well as in air.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Red-faced Cormorant status Least Concern


Alaska, northeastern Asia. Resident throughout Aleutians.
bMigration: Mostly permanent resident. Very rare straggler away from nesting areas (though may winter away from breeding sites in Kuril Islands, north of Japan).

Distribution map

Red-faced Cormorant distribution range map

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