Cormorant eats Sand Shark ?

A very regal bird!

Cormorants are aquatic birds favouring inland waters where they swim and pursue fish which are their main prey. The various species are found on all the main continents of the world. They tend to have a similar body form but one in particular, the Double-crested Cormorant (right), is a very regal looking bird, almost snobbish at times. In taking this photograph, with my long focal length lens, we got so close that I could only fit this “portrait” shot in my viewfinder.

They seem to love striking poses.

We found a Double-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus, behind the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. We were on our way by boat to check out Osprey Nest-1. The cormorant was directly across from Nest-1. He sat there striking many poses as I photographed him.


This picture (left) presents the typical "drying the wings" pose which most people are familiar with. They do this frequently since their wings are not completely waterproof.

They do not have oil in their skin to protect their feathers from getting wet, like ducks and other water birds do. This incomplete waterproofing is actually beneficial. It helps to reduce buoyancy, which is a valuable attribute for a diving seabird.


We drifted closer and closer and he continued to pose for us. This (right) is a pose where he’s doing some sort of stretching exercise.

Finally the tide pushed us even closer until we bumped into the piling he was on. This frightened him into flight.

Watching cormorants fly is very interesting.


Cormorants fly low above the water with slow wing beats interspersed with periods of gliding.

When they are on inland waters they seem to flop down into the water and then skip along the water, as one would skip a flat stone along the water, until they’re airborne (right). Once in flight they never seem to fly higher than two to three feet above the water. After a short flight they settle back into the water.

Cormorants are great fishermen.

They probably spend as much of their life underwater as above. Fish are caught while under water. Smaller fish may be eaten while the bird is still beneath the surface. Larger fish are taken to the surface where the cormorant flips it and swallows it head first.


About 5:30 one evening I looked out on our bay and saw a cormorant with something in it’s mouth. Quickly grabbed my camera and managed to get this one picture.

It’s a Sand Shark, 18 to 20 inches long. A nice catch, but probably too large a meal for him.



This feature highlights the way in which careful observation of appearance and behaviour can help to characterise particular groups of birds.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License