Double-Crested Cormorant

Phalacrecorax auritus

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A common seabird named for double crests on its head, the Double-Crested Cormorant is frequently seen resting on large rocks along the coast drying its wings by holding them open. Sometimes, a whole colony of cormorants is on the rock all at once; sometimes, the cormorant is on the rock with a group of gulls. The cormorant can be seen just about anywhere along the coast where there are rocks or islands and in many waterways clear across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Cormorants migrate to the west coast. They winter along the coasts, except for in the Northeast. Cormorants fly in a V formation similar to geese, but they flap their wings faster.

As you might guess, cormorants are wonderful swimmers, diving for fish, crustaceans and amphibians and insects from the surface. When diving, cormorants use their feet for propulsion and are able to stay at five to 25 feet below the surface for 30-70 seconds. When swimming, they swim low in the water with their head tilted upward, scooping up any fish they find in their hooked bill.

The Double-Crested Cormorant usually nests on the ground or on rocks in colonies, but sometimes in a platform nest in a tree. The nest is made out of sticks, seaweed and sometimes garbage they find along the beach. When breeding, the cormorants have plumes on their head, black in the East, white in the West. They produce one brood per year, laying 3-4 bluish white eggs without markings. Both parents incubate the eggs for 25-29 days. The young stay in the nest 37-42 days with both parents feeding them. The juveniles are a light brown with a whitish-colored face, breast and neck. Adults have an orange patch on their neck and throat.

By Martha Van Natta

Additional information: see Wikpedia - Double-crested_cormorant

- - Updated 11/15/2015
- - Updated 2/24/2014