Sunday, March 2, 2014

Double-crested Cormorant showing white nuptial crest

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant. Lindo Lake, California. February 9, 2014. Greg Gillson.
This widespread cormorant is found across North America, into Mexico. Most species of cormorants are restricted to coastal waters. Not so the Double-crested Cormorant.

West Coast birds, from the Aleutians in Alaska to Sinaloa, Mexico have white head plumes early in the breeding season. Birds in the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains to the East Coast have black nuptial crests.

Many other species of cormorants lose the bright colored throat skin in winter, but Double-crested Cormorants keep their bright yellow-orange throat pouches throughout the year.

Like the closely related pelicans, cormorants are totipalmate--there is webbing between the front toes as ducks, loons, auklets, and gulls, but differ from these by also having webbing from the inner toe to the hind toe!