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Mystery Cormorant Photographed Near Corpus Christi


My friend Judy Pike sent this photo to me and said it was taken in Corpus Christi by a friend of hers (time of year unknown).  The jizz suggests Neotropic to me, but the shape of the pouch suggests Double-crested.  I've seen photos of young DC's coming into adulthood that have a similar pale border to the pouch, so I wouldn't necessarily think that would be indicative of Neo, and unfortunately we can't see the length of the tail!  Ideas?

Here's some of the feedback I've gotten so far:

In favor of Neotropical:

From "Anonymous":  "Although we cannot see the tail length absolutely, I think we can see enough of it that, if it were a DCCO, we would be able to see a bit of rounding off. Additionally, at least some of the body feathers seems to be a bit pointed, which would also support NECO. Lastly, the jizz, for me, says NECO. But I sure wold not dispute a more learned argument!"  (This person later deferred to Mel... )

From Elliot Gordon:  "I would say Neo based on tail seeming long and the white chin, with overall black. I had a Cormorant ID problem today with two juvenile DC (that's what my pictures say) that I originally thought Neo. This one does not have the lighter underside that could be juvie DC.  It's possibly DC because it does not have a lot of white on the chin, but I'm no expert.

In favor of Double-crested:

From Bob Doe: "I think the orange loral region places this firmly in the Double-crested camp. Neither Neotropical nor Great cormorants have orange loral skin (they're dark)."

From Jean Martin:  "That's a very interesting photo. Indeed, it appears to have characteristics of each of the two species of cormorant. I believe it is more likely a Double-crested. I would give more weight to the extent of the orange pouch on the face, extending up to the eye. As you said, sometimes DC cormorants do have a little bit of white feathers at the base of the bill, though I don't see many instances of it. As a rule of thumb, it seems to me that DCs have a bit "chunkier" body, as opposed to the rather slender appearance of Neos, and the bird in the photo looks quite slender. However, I've seen many photos in which the DC looked somewhat slender-bodied. The tail in the photo you provided looks almost too long for a DC, but the camera angle may just make it appear that way. Something in favor of the bird being a DC is the wing length. It appears that a tiny bit of wing tip is seen just below the base of the tail. The Neotrop's wings tend to be a bit shorter.  The web site has good comparative photos at On that web page I noticed that photo 6 of 7 of the DC looks rather similar to the bird in the photo on your web page, with a bit of white at the base of the bill, a very slender body and longish tail. Also click on the photo at right showing DC and Neos side by side and note particularly the comparative length of the wings."

From Mel Cooksey:  "This is a Double-crested Cormorant, probably second-year. It is not uncommon to see imm. DCCOs with a whitish area at the base of the gular pouch. Once in awhile, we find a Neotropic that shows gular pouch color extending above the gape line, into the lores. These are mostly immatures. In those instances, the color around the lores is usually quite limited and is a "dry mustard" color in those few NECOs that show it. DCCOs gular areas are most usually the "pumpkin" orange of this bird.  Also, as the gular pouch ends at the cheek, it ends in a rounded effect, not the sharp pointed effect of NECO.  You can also sort of get an idea of rounded effect of the scapular feathers in this photo, indicative of DCCO, whereby NECO scap feathers appear slightly pointed."

From John Brush:  "To me, seeing that large yellow/orange "eyebrow" clinches it as Double-crested. I've used that as one of my main ID marks for good looks at perching birds, but would be interested to know if that always holds up or not."

From Judy Kestner:  Double-crested I think --- you can see the yellow throat pouch. Also, the feathers don't appear as pointed-looking on the wings as a Neotropic's.  This is one time when a photo helps make the id. -- until I'm proven wrong, of course! LOL.

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