Bird: Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Height: 32"

Description: Dark cormorant with a long neck and a pouch at the end of the bill that is orange year-round. The bill is long and top mandible is hooked down at the end. Feet are dark and webbed. Grows a "double crest" above each eye while breeding. The crests of the eastern bird are dark and are difficult to see. Soars in flight without flapping wings. Distinguished from the similar Anhinga by its hooked instead of pointed beak. Immatures are brown with a light breast and neck. Must spread and dry its wings after swimming.

Voice: A low raspy, groaning croak. Audio is available at

Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island

Feeding: The Double-crested Cormorant dives for its food, like the Anhinga. However, it catches the fish it eats by scooping them up in its hooked bill. The Anhinga spears its fish.

Behavior at Wakodahatchee: There are two platforms at Wakodahatchee on top of very tall poles. These are usually covered by roosting Double-crested Cormorants. The population at Wakodahatchee seems to be heavily weighted toward immature birds. Cormorants swim on the surface of the water to feed, and dive to catch fish. They hunt in the early mornings, and in the evenings. Cormorants are openly aggressive toward the flocks of Boat-tailed Grackles that arrive in the late afternoon and try to crown the perches and roosts.

Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island

Click here for more information on The Double-crested Cormorant from

I've been told that, in Asia, fishermen keep captive cormorants to help with the fishing. The cormorants are leashed, and a tight ring is placed around their necks. When the cormorant dives and catches a fish, the rings keep them from swallowing, and the fisherman reels in the bird and removes the fish. After enough fish are caught, the rings are removed and the cormorants are allowed to catch their fill.

Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island

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