Double-crested Cormorant (left) and Neotropic Cormorant (right), BraeBurn No. 7, October 4, 2017

 
 
One of the most common birds seen at BraeBurn is the cormorant and we actually have two species that look a little bit alike: the larger Double-crested Cormorant (33” in length) and the slightly smaller Neotropic Cormorant (25” in length).  These are lake birds that easily socialize with other birds on our long lake that winds from hole number 4 to hole number 2.  They commonly sit on the top of our lake bulkheads drying and warming before diving in to feed.  Also, they hang out with, and I wonder if they team up with, our Snowy Egrets to feed because I saw three Snowys flying along with a group of swimming cormorants as if the Snowys were steering fish from the edges of the lake on hole number 7 towards the lake middle where the cormorants were waiting.  Perhaps it was a coincidence but it sure looked choreographed.
 
Neotropic Cormorants have an extremely limited range in the US, inhabiting only the Gulf Coast from southwestern Louisiana through Texas whereas the Double-crested Cormorant ranges throughout the lower 48 states, into Canada, and along the Alaskan Pacific coast.  Both are nearly year-round residents at BraeBurn but the Double-crested wisely heads north during the heat of the summer.
 
Cormorants sit low in the water because they dive for fish as opposed to ducks that ride high or “bob” on the water surface.  In fact, cormorants actually swim underwater, using their webbed feet to propel and steer themselves.  Cormorants have often been the target of ire from fishermen because they are voracious fish eaters but they are safe at BraeBurn, except for needing to dodge a rare, miss-hit golf ball.