Double-crested Cormorant
Phalacrocorax auritus
Family Phalacrocoracidae

Often regarded as a curiosity, these dark waterbirds can be seen swimming low in the water and diving for fish or resting on the shore with their wings spread.

Identifying Traits (both sexes):

  • Body all black, occasionally fading to show dusty gray
  • Bright orange face and throat pouch conspicuous
  • Bills long and black with sharp, hooked tips
  • Distinctive cowlicked “double-crest” of feathers on back of head during breeding season
  • Gray-black legs with webbed feet
  • Generally stands erect on rocks or posts
  • Swims very low in the water, dives for extended periods
  • Juvenile: Pale brown or gray body with whitish underside
  • Size: 80 cm (31”)
  • Weight: 2000 g (70.5 oz)

Voice: The double-crested cormorant almost never makes a sound, though grunting has been reported in nesting colonies.

Habitat: Though originally a coastal bird, the double-crested cormorant has had great success establishing itself around inland lakes and rivers.  It nests either on the ground or in trees.

Range: The double-crested cormorant lives year-round near the Atlantic coast north to Cape Cod.  It can be found as far north as Maine and Newfoundland during the mating season, and it often moves inland to forage throughout the southern U.S. in the winter.

Interesting Facts: Although they are adept swimmers and masterful fishers, cormorants do not have fully waterproof feathers.  As a result, they can often be seen standing on the shore, their wings spread to dry by catching the breeze and sun.



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