Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus

Tags: Great Lakes, North America, Ocean, bird, coastal

Double-crested Cormorant

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Double-crested cormorant. Photo by Donna A. Dewhurst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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What does a double-crested cormorant look like?

Double-crested cormorants are large black seabirds. They have long tails and long necks, with a bit of yellow under their throats. The double-crested cormorant gets its name because it has two white streaks on its head during the breeding season. Juvenile cormorants are brown with a white face, neck and chest. Their call is a deep, guttural grunt.

Where does the double-crested cormorant live?

Cormorants can be found in the sea and on freshwater lakes and rivers. They build stick nests in trees, on cliff edges and on the ground on islands. Cormorants often live in large groups called colonies. Cormorants like to eat fish. However, they will sometimes also eat amphibians and crustaceans. Double-crested cormorants dive to catch their prey.

This cormorant is common in a lot of coastal areas. They spend their winters anywhere that is ice-free along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Cormorants that nest on the Great Lakes migrate south to the Gulf Coast for the winter. The cormorant population decreased in the 1960s due to the effects of DDT (a pesticide). Their numbers have increased since the use of DDT was banned.

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A cormorant colony. Photo by Sarah Meadows, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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