Interesting Facts About Cormorants: Excellent Divers

A cormorant is a species of aquatic bird, also known as shags, which include about 40 species of birds in the Phalacrocoracidae family. Cormorants are medium to large size birds weighing between 0.77 and 11.02 pounds and they have wing spans ranging from 18 to 39 inches. Most have dark colored feathers and a long, thin, hooked bill.
Cormorants have webbed feet and dive from the surface of the water to catch their prey, which includes a diet of fish. Cormorants can dive as deep as 45 meters, and live along coastal regions, building their nests in trees, on cliffs, on the shore, or on islets. There is no distinction between a shag and cormorant, names that were given to two species discovered in Britain.
Below are some interesting facts about Cormorants:
1. Cormorants have short wings for a flying bird due to their need to swim. Because of this they have the highest flight cost of any flying bird.
2. They are considered seasonally monogamous. The male chooses the nest site and then attracts a female. Nests can be on the ground, on rocks or reefs with no vegetation or atop trees.
3. Cormorants seem to be a very ancient group, with similar ancestors reaching back to the time of the dinosaurs. In fact, the earliest known modern bird, Gansus yumenensis, had essentially the same structure.
4. Humans have used cormorants’ fishing skills in various places in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that cormorant fishing was practiced in Ancient Egypt, Peru, Korea and India, but the strongest tradition has remained in China and Japan, where it reached commercial-scale level in some areas.
5. Many species of the cormorant or shag have colored skin on their face. The colors found on these species’ faces can be red, yellow, orange, and even bright blue. The color becomes brighter when mating season approaches.
6. Cormorant feathers are believed to be kept waterproof by their preen gland secretions. Some believe that their feathers are permeable while others believe that water is unable to touch the skin.
7. Some of the many species of cormorants include the double-breasted cormorant, little black cormorant, Indian cormorant, European shag, rock shag, Bounty shag, Japanese cormorant, Auckland shag, Cape cormorant, crowned cormorant, Crozet shag, and south Georgia shag.
8. Once a cormorant has finished eating its meal it regurgitates the indigestible bones and parts.
9. Mother and father cormorants take turns keeping the eggs warm. Once they are born both parents also regurgitate fish for the young to eat.
10. Cormorants tend to build nests in colonies and the amount of bird poop they drop can sometimes be so much that trees below are killed or seriously damaged.
11. Cormorants feature in heraldry and medieval ornamentation, usually in their “wing-drying” pose, which was seen as representing the Christian cross, and symbolizing nobility and sacrifice.
12. They are distributed worldwide, with the largest diversity in tropical and temperate zones.

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