In early October, Steve and Rachael Holzman observed a color-banded Brandt’s cormorant along the Yaquina Bay South Jetty. The bird had plastic yellow band on one leg and the standard metal band on the other leg. The plastic band did not have a code on it indicating that the bird was banded on Southeast Farallon Island west of San Francisco in 1999! That’s an ancient cormorant in my mind. I have been checking the location where Steve and Rachel observed this bird in hopes of observing and photographing it in an attempt to read the numbers on the metal band so we could learn which individual bird this is. I have been specializing in trying to read the 8 or 9 digit codes on metal bands the past few years and I’ve been successful on a number of species including correctly reading the tiny bands on 2 snowy plovers and a semipalmated sandpiper. My chances of relocating the bird in question seem pretty slim though.
Three days ago, I was at the location along Yaquina Bay South Jetty and I was shooting photos of pelagic cormorants flying by. After a while a Brandt’s cormorant flew by relatively close to me and I shot a series of photos as it passed. The bird appeared to be going to land just east of me so I took a look at the images on the back of my camera and I was astonished to see the bird had a yellow color band! No, this was not Steve and Rachel’s banded cormorant but a different one as the yellow plastic band and the metal band were on the same leg and the plastic band had a 3 digit code that I could read. After awhile, the cormorant climbed up on the rocks in front of me where I got better looks and photos of the bands and I was able to also read the digits on the metal band. This bird was also banded on the Farallon Islands but in comparison is a youngster having hatched and been banded in 2018.
Chances may be slim, but I’m still hoping to photograph the other banded cormorant.