Hundreds of Cormorants

Over 200 Double-crested Cormorants

Over 200 Double-crested Cormorants roost in Kenmore, WA (click images for close-ups).

Last week, a bridge closure necessitated a drive around the north end of Lake Washington. There I discovered over 200 Double-crested Cormorants roosting in trees along the shore. I returned the next afternoon to take photos of them roosting and flying.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant about to land

Double-crested Cormorants are common in most of North America, where they live, breed, and fish in fresh or salt water. The double-crest in their name refers to a pair of tufts that appear, one over each eye, during breeding season.

Cormorants like to gather in tall trees during the winter. The rest of the year they spend most of their time at water level. In some parts of the world, they have been used by people to catch fish (a snug collar prevents them from swallowing their catch).

Double-crested Cormorant

A lack of feather oils necessitates periodic drying out.

Because their feathers lack the oil that resists water for most aquatic birds, you’ll often see cormorants resting atop buoys or docks, their wings spread out to dry after diving for fish. Their prehistoric-looking bodies and turquoise-blue eyes make them a rather remarkable sight. I might add, however, that hundreds of fish-eating birds in a small area can definitely produce a less-than-appealing aroma.

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