Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Pelagic Cormorant, Phalacrocorax pelagicus, photographed at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon. It is taking nesting materials back to the rock, where many of these birds were busy nesting. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Terry Sohl, 8 June 2009 [larger view]

Photo taken with a Canon 50D, 400 5.6L lens.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 John Callender
    June 29, 2009

    I’m going to call that a pelagic cormorant. It’s clearly a cormorant from the overall silhouette (despite the clever bit with the nest material) , and according to the trusty Sibley, pelagic is the only cormorant I’d expect to see nesting in Oregon with those white flank patches.

  2. #2 Chris
    June 29, 2009

    Ditto. Pelagic Cormorant.

    White marking on side. Rounded top of head. Only large wingspan, black colored ocean shore nesting based bird I can picture in the Northwest and Pacific Coast region.

    That was fun. In all of my years in traditional educational environments we never did this.

    I wonder where the ‘world’ of our education will be in the future? Maybe, we will get to redirect public funds to more broad based, passionate teachers…

    I know who I would want to take some science classes from!!!

  3. #3 psweet
    June 29, 2009

    One more field mark — the straight neck. Double-crested, Neotropic and Great Cormorants all fly with their necks kinked to one side. I only bother mentioning this to rule out the incredibly unlikely possibility of a Great Cormorant attempting to nest in Oregon. (Actually, I guess the statement that “many of these birds were nesting” would rule that out already. Oh, well …)

    By the way, it seems that June 9 is a bit late for nest-building in a large resident species — anyone out there from the NW know if this is typical timing?

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