Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birds I take for granted

Cormorants fall into that category but like anything, start digging around and there's an interesting story there.

I saw these colonies of double-crested and pelagic cormorants during a lovely harbour cruise out of Nanaimo with my mother.

The birds live in impossibly small cliff nests on the west side of Gabriola Island.

Cormorants are unusual among seabirds in that they don't have waterproof wings. That's why they are often seen sitting on rocks with their wings spread out to dry.

Most birds get their waterproofing from the fine structure of the feathers but waterproof birds are buoyant birds. The cormorant trades being dry for the ability to dive to depths of up to 40 metres.

Under the water they are agile swimmers and pursue fish and small invertebrates.

Young cormorants in colonies form groups called creches that they hang around with when their parents are out gathering their food.

Cormorants, and especially their young, don't make it hard to imagine their reptilian link to the dinosaurs.

1 comment:

Fiona Cohen said...

I love the honeycomb weathering on those rocks -- and you did a fantastic job of catching the iridescent gloss on that pelagic cormorant.