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Friday, September 10, 2010

Pelagic Cormorants at Anacortes Ferry Landing

I was looking through some of my bird photos the other day and I realized I don't have any good photos of any of our local cormorant species. Yesterday I made my way back to the island after a nice visit in Portland, and the ferry terminal in Anacortes was the perfect place for me to take some pictures of pelagic cormorants.

These smallish cormorants of the north Pacific usually nest in small groups on cliff faces, but this particular colony has made its home on the large pilings at the ferry terminal, nesting on the little ledges inside the guide boards that direct the ferry into the slip. Quite a few of the birds hanging out there were juveniles, distinguishable from the adults by lacking the iridescent plumage and having dark eyes. This bird is a juvenile:

On this adult you an see a little bit of the iridescent coloring, but also the two crests and the beautiful emerald eye:

I even saw one parent come back and feed its chick. I guess cormorants must not have a gag reflex?

The pelagic cormorant is closely related to the red-faced cormorant, a relatively unknown North American bird that I saw for the first time earlier this summer near Homer, Alaska. Adults of these two sympatric species are distinguished only by the amount of facial skin showing (more on the red-faced) and the size of the crests (larger on the red-faced).

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Monika, perhaps they do have a gag reflex, helping the regergitation of the food ?

Off for some tea now :-)