Great Cormorant

Hey guys, welcome back. Today is the great cormorant, our second cormorant species. Great cormorants look similar to the more abundant double-crested variety, but are noticeably larger and bulkier looking. They have a white patch at the base of their bill, and a white patch on their flanks, under the wing that’s typically only visible in flight.

In North America, great cormorants are typically only found along the Atlantic Coast from the Carolinas up to Greenland and seldom stray inland. Although they do wander inland every now and then. In fact, one showed up on Lake Erie a couple months ago, making for a rare sight. I did see that one, but most of my sightings come from New York. Every winter, they are reliably seen on a small outcropping in the East River just south of Randall’s Island, and can be seen flying up and down the shoreline. My only pictures of great cormorants (seen above) came from a trip to New York City this past January. They were atop the tower at the end of the breakwall at Breezy Point in Rockaway (the third bird visible in that photo is actually a peregrine falcon!) Like most cormorants, great cormorants lack some of the waterproofing ducks have. This adaptation actually helps them dive and swim underwater easier, but the downside is they often need to stand with their wings outstretched to dry them off, as seem in the picture. Cormorants are fish eaters and have narrow, pointed bills that are serrated and feature a slight hook on the tip. They are really cool birds. I’m hoping to get out to LA this year and should be treated to additional cormorant species such as the neotropical and Brandt’s. Fingers crossed! Well, after a number of water birds in a row, it’s time to head back inland. Next up, we’ll talk about a vireo! See you then.

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