William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Sunday, 9, May, 2010

A Question of Cormorants

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 13:00

There are always some cormorants flying around  the E55th  St.  marina.  Usually, you see them in singletons or pairs flying parallel to the lake shore.  I can’t tell if they are double-crested cormorants or great cormorants–the latter are “bigger and bulkier” but how do you tell without having two in front of you to compare them?  Yeah, yeah, John Audubon could do it, but he shot his specimens.  I somehow think “I was only birding” would not get me out of  trouble if I used my shotgun–so I’m just gonna guess they’re double crested cormorants.

Today, though, I saw a huge skein of them in V-formation.  At first I thought they were geese, and I’ve never seen cormorants fly in v-formation.  I know the geese do it to aid in migration, the point bird breaks the air, and it makes flying easier for the followers.   As there were a lot of them (around forty) I think they were the double-crested ones, who like to hang out in groups.

Then I got to thinking–I’ve never seen gulls fly in formation like that–they’re usually solitary.  Gulls will play and wheel around, and be in large groups on the ground–sometimes a football field will look like a ringbill convention–and they hang out around food in large groups.  But the gulls all seem to travel alone.


  1. All I can think of is Johnathan Livingston Seagull… sigh… Since I’m not living on lakes, I’m absolutely NO help.

    Comment by oldnfo — Sunday, 9, May, 2010 @ 19:33 | Reply

  2. From what I’ve heard, it’s impossible to tell them apart without shooting them. So it’s a useless distinction — they’re all just cormorants.

    Comment by readersguide — Monday, 10, May, 2010 @ 11:34 | Reply

  3. And I’ve seen cormorants flying in a v formation to land on the bay around here. Heck if I know if they’re migratory, of course.

    Comment by rj — Monday, 10, May, 2010 @ 21:49 | Reply

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