It was a big birding day today! Early count puts me somewhere in the 14 to 16 new birds to add to my list and should put some distance from my brother’s recent charge. Based on that haul I can probably take the rest of the year off from bird posts so all of you non-aviary oriented readers out there are probably going to rejoice knowing this is probably the last post of its kind until 2016 (I can already hear the collective cheers).
I have to say, today’s featured bird is one of those I always knew I had in the tin, but just wasn’t sure when it was obtained and which location it was taken at. This is primarily due to the huge delay in getting things processed as of late. Truth to be told it is really which of the location”s” was going to come up first since I know this bird was shot during at least 3 or 4 different shoots.
Turns out, the first one to pop off the queue was the series taken at Lake Andes in South Dakota. If you recall from the previous posts, Lake Andes turned out to be quite the haul for new birds. Unfortunately, these particular specimens were holding court a significant distance from where we were able to shoot on the banks. The Beast was straining with all its might to pull them in and as you would expect (and in this case physically see the results), the shots turned out a little soft. Not bad for the distance, but definitely not gallery worthy in any manner. Luckily, the quality of the shot doesn’t come into play on whether you get the checkmark or not (I won’t mention names, but I know someone that is claiming a certain yellow highlighted bird on his birding list that has an equal chance of being a school bus based on the shot results hehehe).
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this large bird.
Oh, I should probably mentioned the featured bird is a Double-Crested Cormorant. There are number of different Cormorant species, but quite frankly the Double-Crested dominate the regional charts with overlap exceptions primarily on the coasts. Being that these were taken in South Dakota, I don’t have much reservations about ID’ing them as Double-Crested even though none of them are displaying the extra thin layer of stringy feathers noticeable in the breeding season. With the possible exception of the first shot, none of these shots show the standard pose I almost always see them in when I’ve encountered them on a shoot. Not unlike Turkey Vultures, the Cormorant tends to stand on docks, trees, rocks etc. with their wings half raised. They apparently do this to dry out their wings since they do not have the same amount of oils normal waterfowl do.
now, completely unlike the Turkey Vultures, they are trying to dry the water out off their wings, not the rotting oils from dead carcasses the Vultures prefer feasting in. Better get to some facts, pictures running short. First off, they are pretty heavy birds – lanky and strong, and as a result ride very low in the water. You can see that demonstrated in the shot below. The back is almost level with the water. They are suppose to be quite colorful up close with the orange and sparkly nature of their feathers – have to trust the reference books on this one since I only remember seeing them from afar. Staying with the color theme, the Cormorant has blue coloring inside their mouths – again, will have to take their word for it.
There is at least one regional difference in their species. The Alaskan versions have their second fine feathered crest in white, where the other regions have black feathers. The Alaskan variety got the better palette in that deal. Not only a new bird for me, but the research produced a new word as well – creches – that is the name given to their youngsters. Be sure and thank me the next time you use that in a crossword puzzle. Lastly, they carry a Least Concern Conservation Status (yeah!)
That’s all I have for you today. Well, that and a slight confession. Remember in the opening I mentioned all the new birds we came across today.. ummm, check the calendar. I was just teasing you a bit (and trying to make my brother worry for a least a bit). There was really only one new bird at best today (still need to validate it) and if you think I’d willingly stop posting on birds for the rest of the year you must think I’m normal (hehehe). So, only one new bird and at the risk of turning those initial cheers to groans.. there are plenty more bird posts coming at you … very soon actually.
Have a good one everyone and enjoy April Fool’s day.