Alaska Science Center
Migration and wintering sites of Pelagic Cormorants determined by satellite telemetry
Start a New Search | Return to existing search by pressing your browser's back arrow
Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hatch, S. A., V. A. Gill, and D. M. Mulcahy
Factors affecting winter survival may be key determinants of status and population trends of seabirds, but connections between breeding sites and wintering areas of most populations are poorly known. Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus; N= 6) surgically implanted with satellite transmitters migrated from a breeding colony on Middleton Island, northern Gulf of Alaska, to wintering sites in southeast Alaska and northern British Columbia. Winter locations averaged 920 km (range = 600–1190 km) from the breeding site. Migration flights in fall and spring lasted ≤5 d in four instances. After reaching wintering areas, cormorants settled in narrowly circumscribed inshore locations (~10-km radius) and remained there throughout the nonbreeding period (September– March). Two juveniles tagged at the breeding colony as fledglings remained at their wintering sites for the duration of the tracking interval (14 and 22 mo, respectively). Most cormorants used multiple sites within their winter ranges for roosting and foraging. Band recoveries show that Pelagic Cormorants in southern British Columbia and Washington disperse locally in winter, rather than migrating like the cormorants in our study. Radio-tagging and monitoring cormorants and other seabirds from known breeding sites are vital for understanding migratory connectivity and improving conservation strategies for local populations.