Double-crested Cormorant

Cormorants of Delaware (2 Species to Know)

Cormorants are slender diving waterbirds with a distinctive shape and set of habits. While there are many cormorant species that live in North America, there are only two that can typically be found in Delaware, here is everything you need to know about these two species.

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant – Caroline Jones Photo
Identification

Great Cormorants are larger than other Eastern Cormorant species. They look different depending on the region with some subspecies having more white on their head and neck. The birds in Eastern North America are glossy dark brown to black with white on their flanks and throat. They also have an orangey colored gular patch. Birds in nonbreeding plumage are a chocolatey brown color.

Range

Great Cormorants are extremely wide spread with the species being found in North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. In North America they reside on the East Coast from Southeastern Canada all the way south to Florida and even the Gulf Coast.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Great Cormorants are specialists at hunting for and eating fish. They are known to specialize in bottom dwelling fish that they pull from crevices in rocks. They typically forage in shallower water under 50 feet in depth.

Where to Find This Bird

In the United States, look for Great Cormorants on rocky coasts in the states along the Atlantic Ocean. In particular, the more Northern States in New England are some of the places this species is most common.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant
Identification

Adult Double-crested Cormorants have a dark brown to black head, neck, back, underside and wings. Juveniles will be lighter brown in color with a lighter throat and underside. Both adults and juveniles have orange by the eyes and base of the bill as well as a turquoise colored eye. Breeding adult birds have two tufts on their head that can sometimes be hard to see, but these crests are what this species is named for.

Range

Double-crested Cormorants live year round along the Pacific Coast of North America from Northwestern Mexico all the way up to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They also live year round in parts of Florida. This species winters in in the Southeastern United States and Northeastern Mexico. In spring, they move into the Northern United States and Southern Canada where they can be seen migrating in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Double-crested Cormorants primarily eat fish which they catch by hunting them underwater. They will also eat other aquatic creature such as crustaceans and amphibians.

Where to Find This Bird

Double-crested Cormorants can be found in a variety of places with all of them usually being near bodies of water. Look for this species in trees lining lakes and ponds as well as in marshes. Often times, Double-crested Cormorants will congregate in large groups on islands or other places with adequate perches as they dry their wings and survey for prey.

Summary

Cormorants are unique, lanky birds that are a common sight near the water. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding Youtube Channel.

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