Double Crested Cormorant, a large pre-historic-looking bird with excellent diving skills. A skill they use to catch their fish, their main food source.
In the Mediterranean area, and in the east Asian countries, mainly China and Japan, Cormorants have traditionally been used by local fishermen to catch the fish for them.
The fishermen tame the birds to some degree, place a snare around the necks, tight enough that the birds can’t swallow the bigger fish. The small fish go through, and the birds return to the fishing boats with the larger fish stuck in their throats, for the fishermen to retrieve.
Here in the United States, the Double Crested Cormorant population dwindled to low numbers in the middle of the last century, but have now recovered quite well, being protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
They have actually recovered to the point that they have become a nuisance for bridge maintainers and fish hatcheries. Large colonies nesting on the bridge structures, for example on the Astoria bridge, make bridge maintenance difficult.
You may have seen the Crested Cormorant in real life, or pictures of them, standing with their wings spread out. No, they aren’t waiting for clearance, or good wind, for take-off. They don’t have as effective water-repellant oil on their feathers as other waterfowls. After being in the water, they spread their wings out to dry, in order to be able to fly.
The photographs of the Cormorants on this site were taken along the north shore of Lacamas Lake, in Camas Washington.
See a full size picture, and additional;pictures of this and other birds in the Northwest Birds photo gallery.