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
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
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 AllAboutBirds.org web site has good
comparative photos at
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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