Sighting of the Month: A Flock of Cormorants

DaveBirds, FishingLeave a Comment

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When you think of Albuquerque birds, cormorants don’t come to mind, but I see one every two or three years. Not only is Albuquerque part of the Central Migratory Bird Flyway, but the Rio Grande runs right through the middle of the city; so yes, we have water and fish. But today I saw a flock of about ten of these birds that were flying considerably higher than the birds shown above. They were double-crested cormorants, which are uncommon but still are found year-round in the Middle Rio Grande, roughly from Cochiti Lake to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

300px-Peche_cormoransIn China, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia, cormorants are tamed and are used as avian fishers. Wikipedia notes, “To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird’s throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up. Though cormorant fishing once was a successful industry, its primary use today is to serve the tourism industry.”