Bird of the Week – Double-crested Cormorant

WC hasn’t seen very many Double-crested Cormorants in Alaska. This one was on a tide-blown snag on the otherwise treeless Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, near Old Chevak.

Double-crested Cormorant, Old Chevak, Alaska

Double-crested Cormorant, Old Chevak, Alaska

The Double-crested Cormorant is the most numerous and most widely distributed species of the six North American cormorants, but probably the least numerous in Alaska. In the U.S. and Canada, it is the only cormorant to occur in large numbers in the interior as well as on the coasts. A few Double-crested Cormorants winter in the Snake River Canyon here in Idaho.

Probably more than any other bird species, the Double-crested Cormorant is persecuted because it competes with humans for fish and lacks the charismatic appeal of the Osprey.

The orange-yellow skin of the face and throat (gular region) is a distinctive field mark throughout the year. The “double crest” that gives the species its name is an unreliable field mark; the feathers are variable and are fully developed for only a short time early in year.1

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.


  1. when WC and his birdathon team were scouting for their record-setting birdathon, we encountered a very drunken fisherman at the Valdez Small Boat Harbor, who told us, in slurred speech, he’d seen a “Double-breasted Oystercracker.” that day. An interesting conflation of Double-crested Cormorant and Black Oystercatcher, perhaps? We congratulated him on his sighting and left.