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Saturday, May 30, 2009
A cormorant dries its wings
Cormorants are a common sight along Astoria's waterfront. They're easily recognizable by their long necks and their angled stance, but one of the coolest things is to see them drying their wings. Unlike some waterbirds, a cormorant's wings are not waterproof. It's said that they turn their bodies so the full sun catches their wings, but this isn't always true. This bird wasn't facing the sun, but it seemed to enjoy the fact that the sun was actually out the other day when I took the photo. Its wings dried quickly and the cormorant went back to its normal position with wings folded and eyes scanning the water for fish. Once they see a potential meal, the are very fast and strong divers, and very powerful swimmers. Some cormorant species can dive to 40 feet. It's a rare day when you wouldn't see cormorants along the river walk. According to Wikipedia, the name "cormorant" is derived from Latin corvus marinus, "sea raven." Our local birds are double-crested cormorants, and they develop small tufts or crests on their heads at breeding season. Cormorants have amazing green eyes, which I hadn't noticed until I photographed this one. I would describe the color as a bright pale green, which you may be able to see if you click on the photo. Here's another picture of the cormorant. A high-quality long lens would have been helpful, but you can get some idea of the color. It's so unusual! The pilings, too, are still bright green from our wet winter.