Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
 about habitat birds + science 20 birds
aerialist raptors
copyright UW Sea Grant, writer: L. Wiland, design: T. Yao contact us credits

Double-crested Cormorant — Water Connection

• The name “cormorant” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “sea crow.”

• Cormorants differ from other waterbirds in that their plumage is wettable and not waterproof. This is due to the structure of their feathers, which are designed to decrease buoyancy. Even so, only the outer feathers become heavy and soaked with water; an insulating layer of feathers beneath the outer feathers protects the birds from chill when swimming underwater.

• Cormorants’ long, rudderlike tail, excellent underwater vision and sealed nostrils are adaptations that help the birds pursue prey underwater.

• Cormorants can submerge by either diving or sinking; they can reduce buoyancy by expelling air from their body and plumage. Sometimes they swim partially immersed, with only head and neck above the surface.     next page >>

ML Reeb writer: Laurence Wiland design: T. Yao