Cormorants: Power Line Acrobatics | Star Phoenix

The sight of migratory birds landing on power lines brings a smile to my face.

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Porcupines are large, dark waterfowl that feed primarily on fish. The long, slender body, propelled by strong legs and webbed feet, is perfect for swimming quickly in water.

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Cormorants have long, thin bills with hooks at the end that are used to catch fish. In the air, she can fly in formation in a V-shape and is sometimes mistaken for a Canada Goose, but the cormorant’s body is slim rather than pearl gray, and her head lacks the white chinstrap of the Canada Goose.

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These birds are not graceful on land. They have a very hard time taking off from the ground. When taking off from water, it runs along the water surface and flaps its wings until it gains enough speed to float in the air.

In Saskatoon, you can see cormorants along the South Saskatchewan River any time of the year except winter. Small flocks and single birds perch on utility poles and power lines over rivers.

The appearance of the cormorant landing on the electric wire makes me smile. A 1.2-2.5kg cormorant is not a small bird. Some attempts are not very graceful when trying to land. Landing can be difficult when the wind is strong or other cormorants are trying to land in the same row at the same time. For young, inexperienced birds, this feat is even more difficult.

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Not long ago, I watched a cormorant take off from a power line across the river near the intersection of Spadina Crescent and Queen Street for over half an hour. One bird has failed many times. At one point it was hanging upside down under a wire, clinging bravely to one leg while flapping its wings violently and trying to grab a power line with the other. When I hit it, it made a big splash and let it go. On the next attempt, the bird successfully landed along with her four other birds who were watching the acrobat.

Double-crested cormorants are related to pelicans, boobies, anhinga, tropical birds, and frigatebirds, all of which have webbed feet. These birds are good at catching fish, their staple food. There are six species of cormorants in North America. The double-crested cormorant is the only species found nesting along the coastlines of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and in the central parts of the continent in lakes and rivers.

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Cormorants are colonial nesters, with many pairs nesting in close proximity at the same site. Most of Saskatchewan’s nesting colonies are located on northern lake islands. Most nests are built on the ground, but these birds also nest in the spruce trees that grow on the island. On a large spruce he may have ten or more nests on different branches. Nests are usually piles of loose sticks, but birds may also use cattail or campanula stalks, rope scraps, and other items as nesting material. Large cormorant colonies in Saskatchewan may contain hundreds of nests. They are very busy and noisy places.

When the juveniles hatch, they have dark skin, black eyes, and a whitish throat pouch. In contrast to juveniles, adults have blue-green eyes and bright yellow throat pouches.

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Next time you see one of these birds, take a closer look. The back feathers are dark brown with black edges and you may find them very attractive. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see cormorant fishing, swallow fish, and perform acrobatics on power lines.

(Barbara Humbige is a member of the Saskatoon Natural Society.)

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Cormorants: Power Line Acrobatics | Star Phoenix

Source link Cormorants: Power Line Acrobatics | Star Phoenix

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