My Bantam Lake

Double-Crested Cormorant

Written on 06/10/2018

Phalacrocorax auritus

Double-crested Cormorants are large waterbirds with small heads on long, kinked necks. They have thin, strongly hooked bills, roughly the length of the head. They measure in length between 70 and 90 centimeters, with a wingspan of 114 to 123 centimeters. Adults are brown-black with a small patch of yellow-orange skin on the face. Immature individuals are browner overall, palest on the neck and breast. In the breeding season, adults develop a small double crest of stringy black or white feathers. Double-crested Cormorants float low on the surface of the water and dive to catch small fish. After fishing, they stand on docks, rocks, and tree limbs with wings spread open to dry. In flight, they often travel in V-shaped flocks that shift and reform as the birds alternate bursts of choppy flapping with short glides. These birds are the most widespread type of cormorany in North America, and one of the most frequently seen in freshwater. They breed on the coast as well as on large inland lakes. They form colonies of stick nests built high in trees on islands or in patches of flooded timber. They are of low conservation concern.

Fun Facts:

  • Cormorants have less preen oil than other birds. Because of this, their feathers can get soaked rather than shedding water. This is the reason they have to stand out in the sun with their wings open in order to let them dry.
  • Large pebbles are occassionally found in cormorant nests, and the cormorants treat them as eggs.
  • The oldest known Double-crested Cormorant lived to be at least 22 years, 6 months old.


Source: Double-crested Cormorant Overview and Identification Information, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology