Bathe and Fly

Double-crested Cprmorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

I watched this Double-crested Cormorant diving for his breakfast along the east side of the park as I walked. We were both heading north. It was hopeless to try to capture it on video while it was hunting. As soon as I got it framed and focused, it disappeared. When it and I rounded the northeast corner and headed west, the bird finished its hunt and began the business of bathing. This involved repeated head dips followed by vigorous wing flapping. Along the way, the cormorant passed a gull that was also doing head dips like a copycat. The cormorant looked at the gull for a moment as if to wonder what the fool was up to. I had to laugh. Then it resumed its routine and, pleased with the result, took wing in the direction of the Golden Gate.

If you look closely, you can see why these birds are called “double-crested.” On either side of the top of its head, the bird has a set of feathers that stick out; these are the “crests.” (Photo on the left.) As they go into high mating season, the crests grow more bushy and prominent. Two years ago I was able to capture a closeup, “Blue Eyes,” that shows the bird’s breeding hairdo and its spectacular coloring in detail. Check it out.

More about them: Wikipedia Cornell Audubon In Chavez Park

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