Features: Adults are black with slender beaks, long snake-like necks and short stiff tails. They have a hooked bill. Some have a yellow-orange throat patch. Both legs and webbed feet are black. Birds are the size of a small goose and have a uniform, shiny greenish-black feather coloring. Flies singly or in flocks.
Feeding: They dive and swim underwater to catch fish. Can dive to depths of 60 feet and can stay underwater for 70 seconds. Consume about a pound per day. Known to raid southern catfish farms in the winter.
Nesting: Social birds that nest in colonies in trees or on the ground. Typically lay 3 or 4 pale greenish-blue eggs with a chalky covering. Males and females care for the young. Birds are sexually mature at 3 or 4 years old.
Droppings: High in ammonia; toxic to some vegetation and affects other plants and animals.
Range: Found throughout the United States and Canada. Returned to Ohio in 1992. DDT that kept eggs from hatching wiped out their population in the Great Lakes region in the 1960s and 1970s. Birds winter on coasts, in Texas and Louisiana, and on rivers and lakes in central United States. Range has been expanding in recent years.
Lifespan: Can live up to 23 years in the wild.
Name: Cormorant comes from the Latin for “sea crow.”
— Bob Downing