Double-crested Cormorant

A large flock of Double-crested Cormorants have made their winter home at Wilson Dam, on the Tennessee River near Florence, AL. I have been fascinated by these birds ever since I had seen a National Geographic photo of a fisherman in China using a Cormorant to catch fish. The fisherman would tie a rope around the neck of the Cormorant so that it couldn't swallow the fish, he would then allow the bird to dive for fish and bring them up to him in its beak. I was unable to find the photo that I had in mind. However, I was able to find another National Geographic photo that had been taken in Japan of the fishermen using the Cormorants in the same fashion. Here is a link to the photo:

Cormorants do eat a lot of fish. So much so that there is an on-going debate in many states regarding the Cormorant's impact on the fish population. Cormorant's are federally protected birds- it is illegal to hunt them.

As recently as 30 years ago, due to the effects of DDT, the Cormorant, like the Brown Pelican, had almost been driven to extinction. And now, also like the Brown Pelican, through the banning of DDT and other conservation methods- the cormorant has made a stunning comeback. I would estimate that I saw over 500 Double-crested Cormorants while at the Wilson Dam location- and that is just one of many wintering sites for the Cormorant in the Southeast. I was also pleased to be able to get a photo of a Cormorant that had been banded for research- band #92E.

The Double-crested Cormorant's scientific name is Phalacrocorax auritus. Phalacrocorax is derived from the Greek word phalakros which means "crow" or "raven". Auritus is latin for "eared" which describes the tufts of feathers that appear on the Cormorant's head during the breeding season. This is also how they get their common name of "Double-crested".


Eve said...

Hi Daniel! I figured you were busy. Another great post. All I could think of was the duck named "Ping" when I saw that picture of the fishing Cormorants. We had these guys up north too. They ended up oiling some of the eggs to control them in Lake Ontario. There were a lot of mad fishermen up there, and someone had to give I guess.
They do look like crows in that last picture.
Glad you got a little extra time to post!

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

Well, THERE you are, Daniel! So pleased to see you online again, and with such a great post. Sadly, I'll be missing the cormorant rush across Wheeler Lake this year so I'm doubly-glad for your report. That National Geographic story was also one of my favorites from long ago.