Thursday, 20 July 2017

Double-crested Cormorant (Cormoran à aigrettes)

     Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) is a familiar sight on the waterways of southern Ontario, especially on the Great Lakes, and has made a resounding comeback from the low population levels of the mid to late twentieth century.

     This population resurgence should be a cause for great rejoicing, since the expanding population of this obligate fish-eating bird, indicates an improvement in the health of the Great Lakes. Furthermore, Double-crested Cormorants eat "junk" fish, unattractive to commercial or sports fishers, and are especially important in consuming large quantities of invasive Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) which are heavily implicated in the decline of native species.

     Repeated analyses of the stomach contents of Double-crested Cormorants have revealed time and again that their take of "desirable" species is negligible, but hard science has failed to convince sceptics, or those with a preconceived dislike of the bird, and the clarion call of those wishing to control the population of this native species never abates.
     The fact that they are colonial nesters leads to the death of trees in their colonies over time and this only serves to exacerbate the frenzy of people wishing to cull their numbers. The simple truth is that as the colony expands as part of a natural cycle, trees will be killed and the birds will move to another area, or adapt to ground nesting. What is left behind when the birds translocate is a great depth of guano, rich in nitrogen, which enhances the quality of the soil, and stimulates new growth of trees and the cycle will ultimately repeat itself, as it has done for millennia.
     It is a disgrace that the management of Point Pelee National Park and Nature Conservancy Canada have lent their good name, and their financial and logistical support, to the destruction of thousands of birds from the colony on Middle Island in Lake Erie, using spurious, illogical reasoning to justify their inhumane and totally unwarranted slaughter.
     The following video illustrates what is going on.


     One can only hope that naturalists, birders and concerned citizens will withhold their support, both physical and financial from these two organizations.
     I highly recommend The Double-crested Cormorant - Plight of a Feathered Pariah by Linda Wires, with superb illustrations by Barry Kent MacKay, as essential reading, to fully understand the long history of prejudice against this species.It is a damning indictment of humanity and our attitudes to wildlife.

     As Keith Hobson, Environment Canada, has commented: The Double-crested Coromorant is extremely important, given the unprecedented nature of the history of the management of this species and its ramifications for the way we manage wildlife and respond to these apex predators we see as competitors. It is also a rare treatment that places human society as much under the magnifying glass as the bird itself.



  1. Great images of Cormorant, special.

  2. Sadly I cannot watch the video with our very slow WIFI connection. They tell us that things may speed up in the next 2 to 3 years!!!
    Interesting bird and it sad that anyone should want to destroy them. In fact why would anyone want to destroy any wild animal!!
    Have a good weekend we are almost there :-) Cheers Diane

  3. Hello David!:) I am shocked and sickened by the cruelty I have just witnessed. It seems to me that this Cormorant species is not only beautiful, but beneficial by it's particular eating preferences. It's incredulous, that the Canadian Government should sanction such a disgraceful culling. The Double Crested Cormorant will have my support! Many thanks for bringing this disgraceful activity to my attention.

  4. I have to admit that cormorants have never been a favorite bird because of the tree/greenery destruction along our bays (here in Oregon, where we used to camp).... but I must also admit that I didn't know a lot of this information (including that our governments were sanctioning killing the birds).... I appreciate learning this and the links that you provide and I will pass this information on when I can.

  5. Well I certainly learned something from that post!

  6. Fantastic photos. Congratulations.

  7. I watched the video and I am sadden by the cruelty of the killers and destroyers of these defenseless birds. I hope the government will not allow such destruction to continue. Thank you to those who are doing their best to stop the disgraceful activity against these birds.

  8. Hi David.

    Beautiful pictures of the Cormorants.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  9. Dear David. I was truly sickened by the information in this post. I think Cormorants are magnificent birds. I suspect that those people that claim your Cormorants are not a native species do not have one hundredth of the right to claim to be native that the Cormorants have - even if, by some coincidence, they are all native North Americans (not sure what the PC term for your aboriginals is).

    I'm not sure if an e-mail to Trudeau from outside Canada would make one iota of difference - I'll take your advice on that.

    Just back from a week in The New Forest with the girls, and now trying to catch up. With love to you both - - Richard

    1. Couldn't hurt, Richard. Tourism from the UK is significant in Canada.

  10. Very interesting info David and thank you for correctly id'ing my bird as the Grey Catbird. Much appreciated.

  11. Same happens here David. Anglers blame our Cormorants for every loss they suffer - nothing to do with diseased fish, fish that struggle to eat, farm reared and then released fish, overfishing, weather etc, etc. As a species can't get close to photograph. is it any wonder?

  12. Hi David,
    Here we see the Aalscholver go live then come because they really eat all the lakes. With me behind the dike is a very big colony and a noise that they can make !!!! In addition, those crests stink as the sun shines and you ride along the colony hihi .....
    Nice pictures show you of them :-)

    Best regards, Helma