Fishing birds

This prehistoric looking bird is a Double-crested Cormorant (cor-mor-ant).  They are found in most of the lower 48 states, the southern coastal areas of Alaska and parts of Canada–both along coastal areas as well as inland. These large birds are found in or near lakes, rivers, coastal areas and even swamps as they eat mostly fish, and not tiny little fish. As these photos I took yesterday show, these Double-crested Cormorants catch good sized fish.

These waterbirds catch fish by swimming underwater to grab them in with their bills. Then they have to maneuver the fish, using only their bills, to a position where they can swallow them-yes, swallow them whole.

There are a number of members of the cormorant family including the following 6 cormorant species found in various parts of North America:   Double-crested, Great, Neotropic, Red-faced, Pelagic and Brandt’s.  All but the Double-crested are generally found along coastal areas.

As can be seen in the bottom pic, this bird has managed to get this nice sized fish so it can be swallowed head first. With just a few gulps Double-crested Cormorants swallow fish as big as the one in these photos and even larger.

Though not generally thought of as a ‘feeder bird’ these Double-crested Cormorants do frequent big, deep ponds  in large sized yards when they have fish in them.  So if you have a pond large enough for these big birds to swim in,  you may be able to attract them them by keeping fish in the pond, but do understand that they have appetites as big as their size.  However most of us observed these very long necked birds at parks, natural areas, lakes, rivers and coastal areas.  I suspect that most people have seen them though they may not have known what they were.

The fish in these photos is certainly interesting looking. I don’t know what kind it is but would be interested in finding out. So if you know what kind of fish this is, please make a comment below.

  1. Patsy Hicks says

    Today at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, we saw a neotropic cormorant fish and stab his perch meal before finally working the fish down his throat. It was very interesting to see.

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