The Travels of Tug 44

Double-Crested Cormorant

The Double-Crested Cormorant is a large diving bird that makes its living catching fish. This one was sitting on some driftwood on the Hudson River in Fort Edward. They are a bit different from other water birds in that they lack the usual hollow bones and also their feathers are not oily. This makes the bird heavy for its size, and makes them better divers. During breeding season, they grow long white "eyebrows" ... the "crests", though this photo was taken out of season.   high-res

Because of their weight, the Double-Crested Cormorant floats very low in the water, and all you see is the neck and head. And because of the non-oily feathers, they need to dry out after diving so they can fly better. You often see them sitting on buoys and navigation markers, with their wings spread out, drying.   high-res

This close-up of a Double-Crested Cormorant shows a hint of his double crests, tufts of feathers above each eye, though not in breeding colors.   high-res

Double-Crested Cormorants float very low in the water. All you see much of the time is the head and neck ... periscope birds!   high-res

Water landings are never pretty with large seabirds. As they land, they stick out their webbed "duck feet" and the water sprays in all directions ... even the most skilled ones look like amateurs. :)   high-res

Double-Crested Cormorants also have a somewhat comical water take-off, involving paddling furiously and running on water as they get up speed. Their duck feet aren't the best for running either.   high-res

The Double-Crested Cormorants do look a bit prehistoric as they congregate on driftwood to rest and dry off after a hard day's fishing. I do really like the teal-colored eyes when the sun lights them up.   high-res

Spotted this Double-Crested Cormorant in a farmer's pond in the Fort Edward Grasslands. Before that, I had seen them only in the Hudson River. The brownish color instead of the usual black indicates this one is a juvenile.   high-res

This Double-Crested Cormorant has caught a tasty Yellow Perch fish, which gets swallowed in one quick gulp.   high-res

And this Cormorant has caught a huge Sunfish in my canal harbor, I took this photo from my porch. The fish is struggling as the Cormorant works it around so it can swallow it head first so the spines don't hurt. It took a good 10 minutes to get it into the right position. The Cormorant expanded its throat and lower beak to allow it to pass.   high-res

The Double-Crested Cormorant, a highly specialized fisherman.

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