Double-crested Cormorant is the cormorant most likely to be seen inland, and
the only cormorant commonly seen in South Dakota. During breeding, two
tufts of feathers (the "crests") appear on the head, being black and small
in eastern birds, and white and larger on western birds. The feathers
are not waterproof, so the Double-crested Cormorant is often seen sitting on
a stump or log, wings spread, to dry its feathers.
Habitat: Found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including
large lakes and reservoirs, small ponds, and rivers in South Dakota.
Diet: Fish, crustaceans, frogs,
salamanders, snakes, and occasionally aquatic vegetation.
Behavior: Primarily forages by diving underwater
while swimming at the surface, propelling itself with its feet underwater in
search of prey.
Nesting: May through August. They nest in colonies,
sometimes mixed colonies that include various wading bird species. The
nest site is an elevated site above or near water, such as a tree or cliff.
They will also sometimes nest directly on the ground on islands, provided the
island location provides protection from predators. The nest itself is a
platform of sticks, lined with finer vegetative material. The female lays
between 2 and 6 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them. When the
eggs hatch, both parents help feed the young. The young leave fledge after
about 6 weeeks, but typically remain in the care of the parents for another few
weeks after fledging.
Migration: Birds in the interior of the country
migrate to the coasts or extreme south in the winter.
In South Dakota, the only other cormorant species that has
been seen (rarely) is the
Those two species are roughly similar in appearance, but the Double-crested
Cormorant is much larger. Elsewhere, Double-crested Cormorants may be
confused with other cormorant species, including the
Great Cormorant on the East
Coast of the United States, and the
Brandt's Cormorant and Pelagic Cormorant on the West Coast.
Status: After a considerable decrease until the early
1970's (probably due to DDT and other pesticides), Double-Crested Cormorants are
now increasing both in numbers and range.
The IUCN lists the
Double-crested Cormorant as a species of "Least Concern". Note the
species has recovered so well that they are (wrongly!!!) being considered as a
"pest" species in some areas. In the Great Lakes area, for example, there
are discussions of culling Double-crested Cormorants, with fisherman claiming a
rise in populations is impacting game fish populations.
Whatbird.com: Double-crested Cormorant
Photo Information: December 10th, 2012 - Everglades
National Park in Florida - Terry L. Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Double-crested Cormorant