Double-crested Cormorant in breeding plumage at Irvine Regional Park
When I was a child, I read the book "The Story of Ping" about a duck's misadventures that include a small section on Ping encountering cormorants used for fishing. It fascinated me, and I still find cormorants of all kinds very interesting. You can read "The Story of Ping" online here.
Double-crested Cormorant at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley.
Double-crested Cormorants are black birds that can be found just about anywhere there are fish: oceans, wetlands, lakes, streams, channels, ponds and more. This is one bird no one is concerned about. Double-crested Cormorants are growing at a rate of about 2% per year in North America, and about 22% in the Great Lakes area.
Immature Double-crested Cormorant at Irvine Regional Park.
Double-crested Cormorants are dark-colored birds that dive for food. Mostly for fish, but also for other aquatic animals and insects. They have hooked bills and orange-colored skin around the base of the bill and at the top part of the neck. The lores are also orange. They have beautiful turquoise-colored eyes, and black, webbed feet set far back on their body to better propel them through the water. In flight, you can see its bent neck--unlike other cormorants. In breeding plumage, Double-crested Cormorants have a dark or light tuft of feathers over their eyes that looks like two eyebrows growing way wild. The Immature is lighter with a very pale chest. (Page down for video.)
Double-crested Cormorants drying their wings.
Double-crested Cormorants do not have oil to waterproof their feathers. Because of that, they move faster, ride lower in the water than other water birds, and have to dry their wings after swimming. One of the ways to id a cormorant of any kind is how low they ride in the water or that they are holding their wings out to dry.
Immature Double-crested Cormorant drying its wings at Craig Park in Fullerton.
I like watching Double-crested Cormorants. The one above walked around while it dried its wings. There is a chance that this was a mating display, but since this is an immature I doubt it. (Page down for video.)
Double-crested Cormorants may feed and rest with large numbers of Double-crested Cormorants or with other water birds such as gulls, American White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, terns, and Black Skimmers.
There are five subspecies of Double-crested Cormorants. There are 40 plus species of cormorants in the world. They are related to Pelicans, Gannets, and Boobies.
Double-crested Cormorant swimming.
Double-crested Cormorants look similar to loons in the water, but the loon has a pointed bill, not a hooked one. Once you get familiar with both species, it will be easy to tell them apart.
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You Tube Video of a Double-Crested Cormorant drying its feathers.
Although United States fishermen may feel the Double-crested Cormorant is stealing their fish, ironically the cormorant has had over a thousand years of positive relationships with Asian fishermen.
Double-crested Cormorants at Huntington Central Park.
In both Japan and China, cormorant fishing was common and is still practiced. Watch these videos to see the partnership between man and cormorants that existed and in some areas still exists in Asia.
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Video of Cormorant Fishing in Japan
A Different style of Cormorant fishing in China.
So when you are out birding in Orange County, California, look for the Double-crested Cormorant. It is one interesting bird.
OC Birder Girl Links
External Links and Resources
All About Birds: Double-crested Cormorant
Usual thorough, detailed article about the Double-crested Cormorant with information about
Cool Facts, Description, Similar Species, Sound, Range, Habitat, Food, Behavior, Reproduction, Conservation Status, and Other Names.
Fairfax County School District: Double Crested Cormorants
Really good pictures. Good short text.
Internet Bird Collection: Double-crested Cormorants
Wonderful collection of high quality videos of bird species form around the world. There are 14 videos of Double-crested Cormorants.
Article on the Double-crested Cormorant.
Detailed information. Good site.
US Fish and Wildlife: DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS AND FISHERIES IN THE GREAT LAKES BASIN
Good article that answers questions about Double-crested Cormorants in general and about Double-crested Cormorants specifically in the Great Lakes area of the United States. Lots about the question of whether or not Double-crested Cormorants are reducing populations of fish for anglers and fishermen.
US Department of Fish and Wildlife: Double-crested Cormorants
Articles on management.
US Geological Survey: Double-crested Cormorant
Short article on the Double-crested Cormorant. Includes identification tips.