Common Gallinule

Formerly known as Common Moorhens, the Common Gallinule is a versatile bird species that live throughout the marshes of North and South America. Their extreme adaptability has made them successful in a variety of wetlands, as they swim like a duck and walk over floating vegetation with their long toes as well. These birds have bold marks with vivid plumages but are rather shy and typically remain hidden within the swampy vegetation of their natural habitats.

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Gray Catbird

When one thinks of the word “catbird”, they might see it as an oxymoron. Yet again, further investigation into their lives reveals a much larger story. The Gray Catbird is a demure and plain bird that surprise birders and non-birders alike with their combination of musical and harsh calls. They derive their names from one such particular call that resembles the mewing of a cat. You can usually hear them from dense thickets and tangles of vines, observers can be surprised to find a bird rather than a cat calling out.

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Brown Creeper

The Brown Creeper is a small songbird that can be found in some of the largest trees in the dense woodlands of North America. They are elusive birds and one can catch glimpses of them as they whizz around the thick trunks and branches of their nesting trees. Their plumes do well to keep them camouflaged from potential predators as they glean insects from the trunk and bark, but avid observers can catch them zigzagging upwards occasionally during their feeding times. These birds tend to go unnoticed easily until their sharp calls pierce through the foliage to catch the attention of their surrounding flocks.

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Whimbrel

One of the most widespread shorebirds around the world, the Whimbrel is a large shorebird that nests across North America and Eurasia. They winter on the coasts of 6 continents, all but Antarctica, and gather in huge flocks during migration season. They are long-distance migrants that travel across thousands of miles, over open oceans, and through multiple countries before they reach their wintering destinations. Sometimes, they may travel as far as the Latin American countries of Bolivia from their Arctic breeding grounds.

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Surfbird

Impossibly elusive and immensely secretive, the Surfbird is found in some of the most remote areas in the world. Not only do they inhabit some of the most remote coasts in the world, but they also blend in with their surroundings due to their grayish plumages. They are marine birds of the purest form and winter along the Pacific coast of North America, ranging from northern Canada to southern Mexico.

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Parasitic Jaeger

The Parasitic Jaeger is an incredibly fascinating bird. True to their name, they are kleptoparasitic birds which means that they steal the food of other birds. They commonly chase Gulls and Terns until they are forced to drop their food, after which they swoop in and catch the feed. They inhabit and breed in coastal or tundra regions with dense populations of other birds so that they can easily obtain their food.

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Limpkin

The Limpkin is a gangly brown white bird. They can look like giant Rails or resemble juvenile Night Herons. Limpkins are tropical wetland birds with their ranges reaching till Florida. Limpkins are well known for their haunting cries at night that resemble Banshee wails and these cries can be unforgettable as there is something very eerie about them.

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Long-tailed Jaeger

The Long-tailed Jaeger is one of the three species from the family Stercorarius. This species is the smallest of these three species. They are also the most elegant fliers on this list. Long-tailed Jaegers are diurnal birds that perform trans-equatorial migration which allows them to forage for longer hours, as they usually stopover or settle in regions with longer days. This behavior also allows Long-tailed Jaegers to be highly productive year-round.

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Sora

The Sora is one of the most common North American Rails. Their breeding habitat is primarily freshwater marshes that have an abundance of emergent vegetation. During migration, you can find them in brackish coastal marshes. Soras are also one of the Rails that you can easily identify through their sounds. Sighting them is not as easy as hearing them. Their loud whinny call is one of the most distinctive calls of a rail. Other names for this species are Ortolan, Meadow Chicken, Carolina Rail, and Soree.

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Great Cormorant

Great Cormorants are sea birds. These birds are commonly known as the Black Shag in New Zealand and were formerly known as the Great Black Cormorant in the Northern Hemisphere.

About Great Cormorants

The taxonomical term for this bird is Phalacrocorax carbo. The genus name comes from two Greek words, Phalakros and Korax which mean Bald and Crow respectively. The species name, Carbo is Latin for Charcoal which justifies the fact that the adult male Great Cormorants are charcoal black in color.

Are wild birds being trained to catch fish? Now that is something interesting. So let’s find out more about these birds.


● Great Cormorant Photos, color pattern, song
● Great Cormorant Size, eating behavior, habitat
● Great Cormorant Range and migration, nesting

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Great Cormorant Color Pattern

As the species is named Carbo or Charcoal in Latin, the usual color of Great Cormorants is charcoal black. These birds also have a white throat and yellowish skin near the bill. The breeding adults develop a white patch on the thigh and white neck feathers. The juveniles however are dark brownish in color. They have a whitish throat and belly with some brownish streaks at the edges. Great Cormorants have overall dark legs and feet as well.

There is a very fascinating pigment anomaly of these birds that very rarely leads to a Great White Cormorant which is actually just an Albino version of the exact same bird.

Description and Identification

The adults of the species are black and the juveniles are brownish. They can be easily identified from these color differences. The white throat that is unique to the species is also a factor of identification while the patch on the thigh helps in identifying the breeding adults.

These birds can be spotted fishing by diving head-on into the water as they mostly feed on the bottom-living fishes. They can swim on the surface of the water as well.

These birds are usually seen out of the water the majority of the time, resting, digesting, and drying their wings. They fly strongly with deep wing-beats like Geese.

Similar species of Cormorants include Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorants, Neotropic Cormorants, and Double-crested Cormorants. But if observed carefully, Great Cormorants cannot be easily confused with the others as all of them have some unique feature of identification that the others lack. In appearance, Great Cormorants are the most similar to the Double-crested Cormorants however the latter has a red or orange skin near the bill that the Great Cormorant lacks.

Great Cormorant Song

Great Cormorants are not songbirds thus they do not have sing notes. Rather these birds have very few calls. These birds are usually noisy but the breeding pairs are particularly vocal. Great Cormorants make calls that sound like deep grunts. Their dispute calls sound like a low and deep “kek kek” grunting that has a slower pace whereas the colony calls are longer and faster.

Great Cormorant Size

Great Cormorants are somewhere between a crow and a goose. Relatively, these birds are larger than Double-crested Cormorants but smaller than Brown Pelicans. In fact, Great Cormorants are the largest of all Cormorants. These birds measure around 33.1-35.4 in (84-90 cm) in length and weigh 91.7-130.5 oz (2600-3700 g) with a wingspan of
51.2-63.0 in (130-160 cm).

Great Cormorant Behavior

Great Cormorants occur in flocks; however, their flocks aren’t as big in size as the flocks of Double-crested Cormorants. Most of the time through the day, these birds are spotted perched out of the water quietly resting, stretching, and preening. When they forage, they dive from the surface of the water and swim in the depths of it. Unlike ducks and
Geese, Great Cormorants lack waterproof plumage. Thus, they have to keep coming ashore and dry themselves as the plumage gets soaking wet. These birds dry their plumage by sunbathing and while doing so they hold their wings open for long periods of time.

Courting practices of Great Cormorants include males displaying from their territories. The male birds acquire very small territories, usually just the nest site. They open their wings and show their white breeding patch on the thigh as a courting display. Females, if interested, engage males in a series of courting displays including, gargling, pointing,
preflight, post-landing, hop, and kink-throat. These displays continue throughout the period of nesting and chick-rearing, as such displays help the pair to keep the binding tight. Great Cormorants are usually monogamous but there have been some extra-pair copulation practices commonly observed in the European populations.

During the time of nesting, when a different male approaches the nest, the male threatens it by leaning down while holding the tail up and opening the wings and wings. They also wag their head erratically and occasionally give out coarse threat calls. During child-rearing, both the members of the pair take care of the children and defend the nest. When approached by others, they go through something called “Nest Worrying”. This includes the birds clutching a piece of the vegetation in their bill and wagging it to shoo the invader away.

What do Great Cormorants Eat?

Great Cormorants are fish-eating carnivores. Their main diet includes bottom-dwelling fish. These birds forage by diving into deep waters and swim using their flipper-resembling duck-like feet and navigate with their tails.

Their prey includes fish like sculpins, rock gunnel, pollock, cunner, mummichog, Atlantic cod, winter flounder and other flatfishes, and tautog. Sometimes, they also eat small fishes that swim around in schools (a group of fish) such as Sandlance and Capeline and small crabs.

Great Cormorants swallow some of the smaller prey while submerged in water whereas they bring the larger fish to the surface to kill it and soften the meat before consuming. These birds are excellent foragers and studies have revealed that some of them only hunt for as little time as 20 minutes every day.

Great Cormorant Habitat

North American Great Cormorants live in the rocky shores of sea coasts throughout the year. But During the breeding seasons, they shift towards cliffs and rocky islands for nesting and even prefer stunted conifers sometimes. They try to stay away from human activities as much as possible as they prefer not to be disturbed during nesting and child-rearing. These birds also find places with no possible mammalian predators.

They usually perch on rocks when out of the water but can also be spotted on jetties, shipwrecks, ruins of manmade structures, buoys, channel markers, and pilings.

Their preferred habitats during migrations and winters are very identical and include the mid-Atlantic state rivers with sandy shores, sandbars, and edges of river ice. Often Single Great Cormorants have been found far inland living at lakes and reservoirs. In such sub context, they may perch on water control structures, dead trees, piers and
other structures commonly used by the Double-crested Cormorant.

Range and Migration

The range of Cormorants includes the rocky Atlantic Shoreline in the North American continent, Mid Atlantic states with rivers, Canadian maritime province, and the far islands with lakes.

Some subspecies of Great Cormorants also live in the lakes of Serbia and some are also found in Australian waters.

Most of the birds only breed in the Northern part of the Atlantic breeding range but during winters these birds usually migrate towards the south. During winters, Great Cormorants shift towards any place with good availability of fish.

Great Cormorant Lifecycle

Female Cormorants make the nest and lay around 1-7 eggs. These eggs are pale bluish-green with a chalky white covering them. The hatchlings are naked and helpless with black skin. The younger ones are fed fish by their parents. The adults vomit out the catch and it’s usually semi-digested and the chicks retrieve it from their mouths.

The average life span of the Great Cormorants is nearly 26 years. However, the mortality rates for juvenile birds are very high. Approximately a good 40% of juvenile birds do not survive after leaving their nests whereas the mortality rate decrease for the adult birds up to only 10-20%.

Nesting

Usually, Great Cormorants make their nests on rocky islands and cliffs near the waterline to over 100ft over the water level. The male chooses the site with a flat surface for the nest to be built upon. Sometimes, they also make their nest on stunted trees, ship debris, or structures like building ruins. Great Cormorants are pretty adaptive when it comes to nesting and tend to easily use whatever is available.

Male birds also bring material to build the nest and give it to the female who then builds it. The nests are made by carefully assembling sticks and algae and measure on average above 19 inches across and 8.8 inches high.

Anatomy of a Great Cormorant

Great Cormorants are medium size birds with extraordinary capabilities of swimming, diving, and foraging underwater. Their main diet includes bottom-dwelling fishes and thus they dive into deep waters to hunt fish. So for diving and swimming underwater, these birds have developed bodily features to facilitate their voyaging.

Great Cormorants have feet that resemble flippers just like ducks, loons, geese, and swans. Such foot structures help these birds to paddle through water easily and swim well. Great Cormorants dive head-on into waters. When submerged, these birds swim downwards with the help of their feet and strong legs and navigate with their tails.
These birds mostly prefer diving in waters that are 30 feet deep whereas, they can also dive deeper; up to 100 feet to reach the bottom of the waters.

Great Cormorants also have a heavy hooked bill that is perfect for catching and extracting fish from under the submerged rocks at the bottom of the water levels. One drawback of these birds’ anatomy is that their plumage is not waterproof and as a result of diving into waters, they come up to the shores soaking wet. Great Cormorants are often spotted with open wings. They hold their wing up while perched on elevations and have their backs towards the sun and face the wind flow. This position probably helps them feel warm and dry their plumage faster.

Final Thoughts

Great Cormorants have been being used for fishing since the 5th century and thus they have a history of living very closely with human beings. In the 5th century, Fishermen in Japan and China put tethered rings around these birds’ necks and let them dive into the water to catch fish. Later, after being trained, the birds were able to do fishing for the
fishermen even without the tethered rings. In the 20th century, the Greeks and Macedonians used to keep Great Cormorants and train them to herd fish towards their nets.

Ornithology

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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Great Cormorants

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Great Cormorants are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

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Great Cormorant Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Great Cormorant. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders For Great Cormorants

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses For Great Cormorants

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. If you spend a little extra money on bird houses, it will be well worth every penny and they’ll look great.

Bird Watching Is Fun

Bird watching is fun
Bird watching is fun

At first glance, the idea of bird watching appears to be a terribly boring activity. What’s so great about spotting a few birds while on a walk? Don’t you come across some every day anyway?

However, those who have experienced the joy of identifying birds will attest it is actually a tough activity! In reality, any activity is fun if you know how to do it right. So, let’s take a look at why some people think bird watching is fun!

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Short-tailed Hawk

Short-tailed Hawk

A Short-tailed Hawk is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Short-tailed Hawks. We have also put together a list of fun Short-tailed Hawk t-shirts, Short-tailed Hawk bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird watching items.

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Do Hummingbirds Eat Bugs?

If you ask, Do Hummingbirds Eat Bugs? What do you think hummingbirds eat? The usual answer is nectar. However, they aren’t exactly the pickiest of species and nectar isn’t the only thing they survive on. While there is no doubt that the sugary syrup is their first choice of food, if the habitat doesn’t allow them to feed on it regularly, they have other alternatives to feed on too.

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Blue Grosbeak Coloring Page

Cute Coloring Pages For Your Child

If you are a stay-at-home mom and are worrying about keeping your little one busy at home, today is your lucky day because we have a cute Blue Grosbeak coloring page for you and your kids. We provide high-quality, unique, and original free cute coloring pages and coloring pictures for you and your kids. We have been providing fun coloring pages for quite a while now. Additionally, we know how much kids enjoy coloring on printable coloring pages.

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3 Types of Waterbirds

Waterbirds are a bird species that spend a good portion of their life in the water or surrounding it. Some people define waterbirds as those who hover around freshwater. There are also water birds who show up around water bodies depending on the season and spend the rest of the year on terrain. Then, there are some water birds that are full-time residents whose biological makeup has undergone changes to adapt to aquatic life. Primarily, there are three types of water birds. Let’s take a look at the waterbird species to strengthen your journey as a birdwatcher.

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Types of Pet Birds You Can Bring Home

The idea of a pet bird usually conjures up the image of an expert imitator or a rising vocalist. If we look at the most popular pet birds, though, there is a vast range in their size and abilities. Some pet birds are small enough to fit in your pocket, while others need a large aviary to move freely in. Some want your absolute attention, while others would rather you leave them alone. There are also some exotic ones due to their abilities and their rarity.

After understanding the different types of pet birds, you will have a better idea of the one you want to adopt. Additionally, subscribing to our birdwatching monthly subscription program could be of immense use to you. If you have children at home, it will serve as educational content. Our subscription also allows you to understand more about birds. When you plan to become a full-time bird owner, easy access to knowledge about them can never be underestimated.

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Best Pet Birds for First Time Owners

Taking care of pets, of any kind, is a massive responsibility. For a first-time owner, beginning with a low-maintenance bird is the best option. If you are bringing home a pet for your kid, considering many different pets is ideal before settling on one. It is better to look for friendly birds rather than ones who may become violent. Here, we have the 5 best pet birds for first-time owners.

Interacting and playing with birds can be very fun. There are plenty of new things you can discover about birds when you see them in their natural habitat. If your child is not particularly keen on bringing home a pet bird and instead
opt for a cat or a dog, birdwatching might change their minds.

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Bird Study K-2 Standards and Alignment

Bird Study K-2 Standards and Alignment Bird Watching Academy K-2 Next Generation Science Standards  K-2 Language Arts Common Core State Standards   Disciplinary Core Ideas:  K-LS1-1: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms– All animals need food in order to live and grow.  They obtain their food from plants or from other animals.   1-LS1.A: […]
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