It’s Draw A Bird Day! Thanks to Laura at Create Art Everyday for starting this monthly celebration last year.
During the summer, double-crested cormorants can be seen in Calgary, in various locations along the Bow River. I have photographed a few – mostly far away shots with little detail and none with head tufts. Only double-crested cormorants who breed in Alaska grow whitish tufts; elsewhere in North America, double-crested cormorants grow less conspicuous black tufts. Both males and females grow these stringy feather tufts during breeding season. This month’s pen and ink and colour pencil drawing is based on a photo in “Bird – The Definitive Visual Guide” edited by Audubon.
Below are a couple of photos of double-crested cormorants (and Canada Geese) hanging out on the Bow River just north of Carburn Park. Adult cormorants have mostly black feathers while juveniles have light to medium brown feathers.
The juvenile below gave me my closest look at a double-crested cormorant so far. The photograph is from last August, near the Harvie Passage on the Bow River (near Pearce Estate Park). He/she is about to hop into the water.
Back in July, Ron Dudley of Feathered Photography posted some beautiful photographs of a double-crested cormorant in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (Utah). He mentioned that some areas in the United States encourage culling of double-crested cormorants since they are perceived as threats to human commercial and recreational fishing. He included links to a couple of articles on the subject. The article in Natural History Magazine gives a good overview of historical double-crested cormorant populations in North America and how they were affected by European settlers. It also discusses why humans dislike these birds – they eat fish, and they sometimes nest in trees in very large colonies and their guano ends up killing all the trees. The author of this article, Richard J. King, also wrote a book titled “The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History”. I’m two chapters in so far – the writing style is very engaging and makes learning about human-cormorant interactions around the world a fascinating experience.
I’ve only ever seen double-crested cormorants in relatively small groups and I’ve only ever perceived them as beautiful. However, there are clearly a lot of people who don’t like these birds in Ontario, since some politicians are trying to pass Bill 205 which would add double-crested cormorants to the list of birds that can be shot on sight in that province. The birds currently on that list are: American crows, brown-headed cowbirds, common grackles, house sparrows, red-winged blackbirds and starlings.