Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 4, 2009

Cormorant Display

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 4:14 pm
Neotropic Cormorant display

Neotropic Cormorant display

When I lived in New Jersey I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at cormorants. There were plenty of Double-crested Cormorants along the coast and at inland lakes, and after I’d checked one off on my day list I mostly overlooked them. In winter I’d spend a bit more time sorting out the occasional Great Cormorant from the DCC’s, but that was about it. It was probably because I found them  bit boring, and not as much “eye candy” as all the other species to look at.

When I moved to AZ in 1994 I didn’t get to see as many, so they became more interesting since they were harder to add to a day list. And there was also the possibility of adding Neotropic Cormorant to my life list: I’d never seen this bird with a U.S. range limited to the Mexican border area.

Over the years the status of Neotropic Cormorant has changed a lot, and they have become  common as far north as the Phoenix metro area. At the Gilbert Water Ranch where this was taken they are now the default cormorant, and seeing a DCC instead is a notable event.

Now that I see so many cormorants when I’m out looking for photo opportunities I end up taking more shots of them. So I’m now looking for more ways to show their character and increase the diversity in my files.

This bird is displaying, likely as a prelude to mating and perhaps even nesting at the Water Ranch. I find the pose comical, especially as it is so uncharacteristic of these birds the rest of the time. The pointed white border (a field mark that helps separate it from DCC) is starting to show nicely at the rear of the bill. The short white nuptial plumes are even starting to show at the back of the head. Another field mark for the species is also visible in this photo – the feathers on the folded wing have an elongated point, rather than the rounded ends seen on DCC.

Taking this shot presented a couple of problems. It is high in a tree, and there’s no way to get more of an eye level shot so the view is more of an up angle than I’m really happy with. There was no way to avoid a few distracting branches, so I’ve reluctantly cloned them out for a cleaner image (something I seldom do). Finally, the composition was tight all the way around, so I’ve stretched the canvas to giver more space on top and on the left.

D200, 300/2.8 plus 2x, ISO 400, 1/250th at f/10, Feb 3, 2009

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1 Comment »

  1. Just spent some time on your blog Rich. Gotta do this more often – lots of good stuff here and I learn more every time I visit.

    Comment by Ron Dudley — February 5, 2009 @ 5:19 pm


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