Cormorants seem like pretty drab creatures, hardly more interesting to look at than an American Crow. Or so I thought, until I happened on this pair taking the sun and chilling on the rocks below the Open Circle viewpoint late in the morning. One of them mostly napped, and the other perched straight up and looked around now and then in a relaxed sort of way. They didn’t pay any attention as I set up my tripod and zoomed in. But what I saw! Those drab birds had bright orange cheeks, and embedded in that background, crystal blue eyes. Yes, bright blue eyes! I was mesmerized. To top it off, both of these birds had their crest feathers erect. Normally, the crests lie flat and you get no clue why they’re called Double-crested. I’ve only seen the crests up once before, and never in good light like this. I was very lucky! I’m happy to share this short video and some photos.
Read more about these resilient and surprisingly beautiful birds on the Cornell bird lab website, on Audubon.org, and Wikipedia. The upstanding head feathers are called “nuptial crests” and only appear when the birds are in breeding mode.