THE COLONIAL CORMORANTS – SEA RAVENS!
Maybe folks could help us settle this. Are the Cormorants here during the summer, too, or do they show up in the autumn and stay through spring. From what we read, Colonial Beach cormorants are more fall through spring inhabitants. We should be able to remember, but with all the birds here, it can be hard to keep them straight.
Their name comes from two Latin words, corvus and marinus, which together mean “sea raven” (https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/to-do/wildlife/cormorant). They are certainly here in abundance this autumn. You’ll see them perched individually on pilings or in a large colony behind the Riverboat Restaurant in Colonial Beach.
The Audubon maps show them breeding in the north and definitely staying year-round in Florida, but otherwise their status is a little fuzzy and may be affected by climate change (https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/double-crested-cormorant). This writer is also unsure if they are Great Cormorants or Double Crested Cormorants (so named for small double crests of black and white that appear during breeding season). If you know, please let us know.
These slim and graceful birds are primarily black with some dark yellow on their facial area. When stretched upward, they resemble a pudgy snake with wings and a pointed beak. It is an especially pleasant sight to see them spreading out their wings to sun themselves. They do this to dry out their wings and feathers which are not waterproof to enable them to stay under water for quite some time when scouring the water for small fish.
There is lots of interesting information about these birds that have had their ups and downs and some controversy surrounding them. Look them up on the internet or check out some interesting fun facts at: http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-cormorants/