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Raging Cormorants!
Why the Cormorant is the Official Bird of

The Cormorant Origin Story

cormorant"I was hiking with a sweetie of mine on one of those days when, as Pat Kight says, they have turned up the gravity -- when one is immensely tired for no reason, it's a great effort to put one foot in front of the other. I was lagging behind. My sweetie asked me if I was all right. "Oh, yes," I said, "it's only hormones." My sweetie misheard me to say, "It's only cormorants," and from then on I was afflicted by cormorants. A few days later when I loudly expressed my displeasure at some minor kitchen mishap, the same sweetie asked me, "Was that those cormorants yelling in the kitchen?"

Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet

Fascinating Cormorant Facts

rampant cormorantcormorant
ko(hook).rmorant. Forms: 4-6 cormaraunt(e, cormera(u)nt(e, cormoraunt, 5 cormerawnt(e, (kormorount, cormirande), 6 carmorant(e, -aunt(e, -an, cormrant, 6-7 cormorand(e, 6- cormorant. ad. Fr. cormoran, in 15th c. cormaran, cosmaran (Littrè), 16th c; cormarain, -merant; still with fishermen cormaran, -marin; app. altered from an OFr. *corp-marin:-L. corvus marinus sea-raven (occuring in the Reichenau Glosses of 8th c.); whence also Pr. corpmari, Cat. corbmari, Pg. corvomarinho. The ending is identified by Hatzfeld and Thomas with that in faucon moran, which they think to be a deriv. of Breton mor sea, and so = marin. In the earliest known Eng. examples, the Fr. -an is already corrupted to -ant, as in peasant, pheasant, tyrant, etc.

A large and voracious sea-bird (Phalacrocorax carbo), about 3 feet in length, and of a lustrous black colour, widely diffused over the northern hemisphere and both sides of the Atlantic. Also the name of the genus, including about 25 species, some of which are found in all maritime parts of the world.

C. 1320 Orpheo 296 in Ritson Met. Rom. II. 260 Of game they fonde grete haunt, Fesaunt, heron, and cormerant.

C. 1381 Chaucer Parl. Foules 362 The hote cormeraunt of glotonye. The Double-Crested Cormorant

Oxford English Dictionary

comrorantsalso called SHAG, any member of about 26 to 30 species of water birds comprising the family Phalacrocoracidae (order Pelecaniformes). In the Orient and elsewhere these glossy black underwater swimmers have been tamed for fishing. Cormorants dive for and feed mainly on fish of little value to man. Guano produced by cormorants is valued as a fertilizer.

Cormorants inhabit seacoasts, lakes, and some rivers. The nest may be made of seaweed and guano on a cliff or of sticks in a bush or tree. The two to four chalky eggs, pale blue when fresh, hatch in three to five weeks, and the young mature in the third year.

Cormorants have a long hook-tipped bill, patches of bare skin on the face, and a small gular sac (throat pouch). The largest and most widespread species is the common, or great, cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo; white-cheeked, and up to 100 cm (40 inches) long, it breeds from eastern Canada to Iceland, across Eurasia to Australia and New Zealand, and in parts of Africa. It and the slightly smaller Japanese cormorant, P. capillatus, are the species trained for fishing. The most important guano producers are the Peruvian cormorant, or guanay, P. bougainvillii, and the Cape cormorant, P. capensis, of coastal southern Africa.

Encyclopaedia Britannica


Cormorant Links

The Double Crested Cormorant

Cormorants in Central Park (photos by Laura and her husband)

NOTE: All photographs on this page (except the small one of Laura) are copyright © Don Baccus and are adapted here by permission. Animations by an anonymous menobabe.


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