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What’s That Over Yonder?

A group of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) dry their wings on a log.
Crazy Cormorants

A single Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) takes off.
Cormorant Takeoff

We’ve all seen them. Over Yonders. You know, that odd-looking, long-necked bird sitting near a lake or a pond with its wings spread wide, drying in the sun. Ever since I was a kid, I've called them Over-Yonders. Years ago while fishing with my Grandfather, one of these gangly, prehistoric-looking birds was sitting in an old dead tree close to where we were sitting. I asked my all-knowing Grandfather, “What kind of duck is that”. His response was, “that’s not a duck; it’s an Over-Yonder”. He said he called them that because when they’re hunting for small fish, they go underwater and come up over yonder. Of course, that’s not their real name. The rest of the world knows them as Double-crested Cormorants.

A group of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) hunt for small fish at a Lake in Dallas, Texas.
Cormorant Hunting Party

In recent years I’ve grown to enjoy watching the cormorants. Diving below the surface of the water in search of dinner and popping up several yards away. When they finish feeding, they can often be seen with their wings spread, like they are on the bow of the Titanic. Cormorants need to dry their wings because they have less preen oil than other water birds. Having less preen oil means their feathers don’t shed water like duck feathers, but it does allow the Cormorant to have more speed and agility when hunting those little fishies underwater.

So a nod this week to one of my favorite birds to photograph when I’m at the lake, the Double-crested Cormorant or, as my kids like to call them, the Over-Yonders. I hope you enjoy it!

A Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) comes in for a landing at a Lake in Dallas, Texas.
Cormorant Landing

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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view


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