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Posts Tagged ‘Double-crested Cormorant’

Most of the birds that I spotted last Thursday at a small pond seemed to be part of a small flock or at least of a couple. This Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), however, appeared to be the only one of its species. It mostly hung out with a flock of gulls, floating along on the surface of the water.

I observed the cormorant off and on for over an hour and not once did it dive underwater.  Most cormorants that I have seen in the past have either been diving or drying out their wings.

Perhaps this cormorant felt the need to feel like it was part of a group, although it clearly stood out from the other members of its chosen group. I personally would agree that conformity is overrated—be yourself. (Speaking of non-conformity, be sure to check out the cormorant’s striking blue eyes.)

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Perhaps it is because today is Halloween or because the overcast sky on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge caused everything to be shadowy and monochromatic. Whatever the reason, the shape of this Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) reminds me of a bat, especially in the first image.

I captured these two images as the cormorant was preparing to take off from the water. Unlike some birds that rise straight up, a cormorant has to bounce across the water to gain enough momentum for liftoff, which is why you can see the splashes of water behind the cormorant in both shots.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early Friday morning I spotted this Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) at Horn Pond in Woburn, Massachusetts. Although the bird’s facial features were in the shadows, I was happy to be able to capture its distinctive hooked beak in this silhouetted view.

As many of you know, I try to find opportunities to capture nature images even when I am traveling. On Thursday I drove from Virginia to Massachusetts to attend a surprise 60th birthday party on Friday evening for one of my brothers. Although I was somewhat worn out from the drive, which took almost 12 hours thanks to numerous road construction projects and rush hour traffic in Boston, I was out on the trails of Horn Pond by 6:30 in the morning. In many ways immersing myself in nature helps to recharge my batteries as much as sleep does.

A few seconds after I spotted the cormorant, it sensed my presence and flew away. I was anticipating that it might do so and was able to capture this shot just as the bird was starting to take off.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As the waves washed over the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) perched on a floating remnant of a tree, the solo bird looked like a shipwrecked sailor, adrift on a swamped, semi-submerged sailboat. My mind conjured up scenes from different movies with this theme.

A short time later, I encountered a basketball dashing up against the shore with each successive wave. As the ball slowly turned I caught sight of its faded lettering. Like Tom Hank’s companion in the movie Cast Away, the ball was labelled “Wilson.” Perhaps the shipwrecked cormorant had been engaging in lengthy conversations with this Wilson, as Tom Hanks did during the movie.

double-crested cormorant

Wilson

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this little family of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Monday. The adult seemed bothered by something and initIally cried out before finally taking off, leaving the younger cormorants temporarily by themselves.

I am not actually completely certain that this is a family unit, but I think it is a pretty safe assumption when I look at the way that the smaller ones are paying attention to the larger cormorant. It also appears to me that the the adult was potentially reacting to a perceived threat and flew off as a way of protecting the younger ones.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Cormorants are usually really skittish. Even when they are fishing far away from the shore, they will usually take off as soon as they sense my presence. When I spotted the unmistakable silhouette of a cormorant perched on the remnants of a duck blind in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Monday, I fully expected that it would fly away before I got within range to take a decent shot.

As I was approaching, I could see that it was a juvenile Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)—juveniles are paler around the neck and breast than adults and have more exposed orange skin around the bill. Perhaps this young cormorant had not yet developed a fear of humans, but whatever the reasons was, the beautiful blue-eyed bird remained in place as I took some shots from different angles and was still there when I silently moved away.

 

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Its heavy weight and non-waterproof feathers cause the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) to float really low on the water. The cormorant that I spotted yesterday in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, however, was even lower than usual, with most of its body almost completely submerged.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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