March is sometimes referred to as ‘March madness’ and, even though our bird of the month has nothing to do with sports, I think it has a certain look of ‘madness’ to it when it is in full breeding plumage. I happen to love this particular photo with the goofy white feathers juxtapositioned against the bird’s hooked beak and beady eyes.
March’s bird of the month is our emerald eyed Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)!!!!
Cormorants are diving birds related to boobies and frigatebirds (names of other types of birds I swear). When not in breeding plumage, the only color they sport is the bright yellow-orange throat and the emerald blue-green eyes. These birds are often seen drying their jet black wings by stretching their wings in the sun while sitting on the yellow floating buoys at Bolsa Chica. Why would a water bird need to dry its wings after foraging for food you might ask? Well, these birds don’t produce as much water-resistant oil (preen oil) as say, ducks, so their feathers can get soaked, which might help them hunt while in the water. These prehistoric looking birds are 33″ long, have a wingspan of 52″, and are a whopping 3.7 pounds.
Photo: Steven Eric Smith