The Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It occurs along inland waterways as well as in coastal areas and is widely distributed across North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Florida and Mexico. Measuring 70–90 cm (28–35 in) in length, it is an all-black bird which gains a small double crest of black and white feathers in breeding season. It has a bare patch of orange-yellow facial skin. Five subspecies are recognized.
The double-crested cormorant is found near rivers and lakes and along the coastline. It mainly eats fish and hunts by swimming and diving. Its feathers, like those of all cormorants, are not waterproof and it must spend time drying them out after spending time in the water. Once threatened by the use of DDT, the numbers of this bird have increased markedly in recent years. [Wikipedia]
The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigate birds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish. [All About Birds]
Double-crested Cormorant Facts [All About Birds]
- From a distance, Double-crested Cormorants are dark birds with snaky necks, but up-close they’re quite colorful—with orange-yellow skin on their face and throat, striking aquamarine eyes that sparkle like jewels, and a mouth that is bright blue on the inside.
- Cormorants often stand in the sun with their wings spread out to dry. They have less preen oil than other birds so their feathers can get soaked rather than shedding water like a duck’s. Though this seems like a problem for a bird that spends its life in water, wet feathers probably make it easier for cormorants to hunt underwater with agility and speed.
- Accumulated fecal matter below nests can kill the nest trees. When this happens, the cormorants may move to a new area, or they may simply shift to nesting on the ground.
- The oldest known Double-crested Cormorant was at least 22 years, 6 months old; it was banded in Ontario in 1984 and found in Louisiana in 2006.