Cormorant: Raven of the Sea

Cormorants are a family of about 40 aquatic birds, mostly of medium to large size.  All species of cormorants are fish-eaters, catching their prey by diving underwater.  Found in tropical and temperate climates, most variations of cormorants have dark feathers.  It’s this dark coloring that gives the cormorant its name.  Cormorant is a contraction of the Latin words corvus marīnus, meaning “sea raven”.

Cormorant preening in Homosassa Springs, Florida.  Photo: Randolph Femmer, USGS. Public domain, 2008.

Cormorant preening in Homosassa Springs, Florida. Photo: Randolph Femmer, USGS. Public domain, 2008.

Why do Cormorants Stretch Their Wings Out?

Post diving, cormorants can often be seen resting on rocks and in trees, wings outstretched in cruciform form to dry.

Cormorants stretch their wings out to dry after diving in the water.  Photo: Andrea Grosse, John P. Mosesso. Public domain, USGS, 2004.

Cormorants stretch their wings out to dry after diving in the water. Photo: Andrea Grosse, John P. Mosesso. Public domain, USGS, 2004.

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