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Merlin Bird ID

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    Double-crested Cormorant

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    Double-crested Cormorant

    Phalacrocorax auritus
    • ORDER: Suliformes
    • FAMILY: Phalacrocoracidae
    Basic Description

    The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Double-crested CormorantRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Look near lakes and coastlines for perched black waterbirds, smaller and with shorter legs than a heron, and a distinctive S-shaped crook in their neck. On the water they sit low, with the head and bill usually tilted slightly upward. You may also see them holding their wings spread-eagled and sunning themselves. Flocks of cormorants fly in irregularly shaped lines or sloppy V’s. In flight, cormorants hold their head up, neck slightly bent, belly hanging low, and their wing beats are slow and labored.

    Other Names
    • Cormorán Orejón (Spanish)
    • Cormoran à aigrettes (French)
    • Cool Facts