Having Luck

Double-crested Cormorants (Nannopterum auritum)

The last time I saw a pack of Double-crested Cormorants hunting in the North Basin (“Cormorant Commandos” September 10), they didn’t look like they were having any luck. This time it was different. They had struck a vein of little fish and were mining it with great success. In just a minute of filming I recorded twelve catches, and of course my lens saw only a fraction of the feathered fishers at work. Here’s some examples:

There was little honor among comrades here. One bird tossed its prey in the air, and another one snatched it in flight and took off with it. Successful fishers gobbled their catch fast before others could grab them. All of this was eating on the run; nobody stopped for even a second to prepare their food or swallow it. It was very New York.

Historically, human fishers have sometimes regarded these feathered fishers as unfair competitors, and in some locations the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and some local authorities have taken measures to cull nesting sites and restrict their reproduction. Read about it. In San Francisco Bay, cormorants were an issue in the construction of the new Oakland Bay Bridge. Demolition of the old bridge meant destruction of numerous cormorant nests. Much effort went into trying to entice the birds to build new nests under the new bridge. Read SF Chronicle story. That was more than a decade ago. Judging by their recent appearances in the North Basin, the local cormorants look like they’ve solved their nesting and reproduction issues successfully.

Double-crested Cormorants (Nannopterum auritum)

More about them: Wikipedia Cornell Audubon In Chavez Park

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