Double-crested Cormorant

The Double-crested Cormorant is the most common Cormorant in North America (Audubon). So where are their double crests, you ask?? Oddly enough, the bird is so named because of two tiny, barely noticeable, tufts of black feathers that appear on its head ONLY during breeding season. IMG_3565Speaking of ‘tufts’, this fellow (not in breeding plumage) appears to be asking, “Pardon me, but is there something fluttering on my nose?” Handsome Mr. Blue Eyes was doing what these gregarious Cormorants spend a lot of time doing . . . sitting on the boardwalk railing, charming all the passers-by 😌. “Their main two activities are fishing and resting, with more than half their day spent on the latter.” (All About Birds).IMG_3574Cormorants dive for fish, their main food source, and propel themselves underwater primarily with their webbed feet.  That works great for swimming, but it’s really comical to watch them later, trying to make a graceful landing on a tree branch with those awkward appendages. Maybe that’s why they hang out on the railings, where they can get a grip.

We frequently see Cormorants perched in the sun with outstretched wings after surfacing from a dive. The bird literally has to ‘hang out his wings to dry’, because “… its outer feathers quickly become soaked, reducing buoyancy, but the inner feathers are waterproofed and insulate against the cold waters.” (Arkive.org). As David Sibley explains, they “spread their wings simply to dry them rather than to regulate their body temperature.” (The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, 2001, p. 162)IMG_4071An Interesting Art Connection:  Fellow blogger M.R Emberson once wrote a cool post about one of my favorite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and his pet Cormorant in the blog, Awing and Away. Who knew . . . !? Hopefully, that post can be accessed HERE – great blog and a very interesting read.

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