The double-crested cormorant is a large, black water bird with a long, hooked bill. It lives year-round on the Chesapeake Bay’s shallow and open waters.
The double-crested cormorant grows to 32 inches in length with a wingspan of 52 inches. It has a large, black body, a long neck and tail, and an orange chin patch that is squared and has no feathers. Its long bill has a small hook on the end; it holds its bill tilted upward when swimming. Young cormorants have a pale throat and chest with a brownish back and wings.
Cormorants live along the coast and on islands, lakes and rivers. They are often seen perched on rocks, piers and pilings with its wings spread in the air; they do this to dry their feathers and regulate body temperature.
Found year-round throughout the Chesapeake Bay.
Cormorants eat mostly small fish, but will also feed on aquatic invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans and amphibians; an adult will eat an average of one pound of fish per day. They dive underwater to capture prey in their long, hooked bills.
Gulls, crows, blue jays, raccoons, red foxes and coyotes prey on cormorant eggs and chicks.
The cormorant has a noticeable crook in its neck while flying. It flies in lines or V-shaped formations, similar to geese, and can often be seen flying low over the water.
Almost entirely silent, cormorants will sometimes make deep, pig-like grunts in their nesting colonies.
Breeding occurs mostly in the Great Lakes region and the Midwest into Canada. They will nest in colonies with other cormorants.