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Species Spotlight: Cormorants

Although they were no documented double-crested cormorants in the region as recently as 40 years ago, they’re now a firmly established species Baltimore and the state of Maryland!

Published August 30, 2018

The double-crested cormorant can be identified by its dark coloration, hooked orange beak and long neck. They can be found throughout the Chesapeake Bay—including the Inner Harbor—and throughout North America.

Cormorant

Cormorants can settle into almost any aquatic habitat. From coastlines to lakes to rivers to mangrove swamps, these birds are incredibly adaptable. In the Maryland area, where double-crested cormorants were not documented until 1978, they can be found in shallow and open waters. There is even a nesting site for cormorants in Baltimore at Fort Carroll on the Patapsco River!

This carnivorous species is tough to spot when they are on the hunt for prey! Cormorants’ webbed feet allow them to dive deep below the surface of the water to catch fish, crustaceans, eels, frogs and salamanders with their hooked beaks. Adults will eat as much as 1 pound of fish per day!

When they get out of the water, they outstretch their wings to dry. Unlike other waterfowl, cormorants’ feathers become easily waterlogged, which allows them to dive deeper when on the hunt for prey by preventing air bubbles from becoming trapped beneath their feathers.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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