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Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus


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Double-crested Cormorant, adult
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Phalacrocoracidae, Cormorants view all from this family

Description ADULT has mainly dark plumage, but pale feather centers on back and upper wings create a scaly appearance. Acquires black head plumes in breeding season. Note orange gular pouch, base to lower mandible and skin in front of eye; color is most intense in breeding birds. JUVENILE Has gray-buff plumage, darkest on back and usually palest on breast and throat. Bill, bare skin around eye, and gular pouch are yellowish orange; note truncated rear margin. Acquires darker adult plumage over 3-year period.

Dimensions Length: 30-35 (76-89 cm)

Habitat Locally common on coasts, freshwater marshes and lakes. Present year-round on coast, but a summer visitor to many interior freshwater habitats.

Observation Tips Easy to find in a range of wetland habitats.

Range Alaska, Texas, Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast, California, Florida, Plains, New England, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada, Great Lakes, Northwest

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Robust waterbird with relatively long neck and hook-tipped bill. Compared to larger Great Cormorant, neck and bill are more slender and breeding birds (in our region) lack white in plumage (western birds have white crests). Swims low in water, diving frequently for fish. Flies with head and neck outstretched; often perches with wings outstretched. North America's most widespread cormorant and the one most likely encountered near fresh water. Sexes are similar.