Cruising for cormorants along the Atlantic Ocean coastline MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Exploring the Atlantic Coastline: Searching for Cormorants

Every day, I get to witness a truly remarkable sight along the Atlantic Ocean coastline. It’s the incredible ritual of the near-threatened Cape cormorant, an almost exclusivelive species found in Southern Africa. This bird puts on quite a show, with a black line that dances across the sky and makes the horizon come alive. When they land on the water, their feathers glisten like shiny scales, their wings turn into fins, and bubbles trail behind them as they dive beneath the surface in search of prey.

Now, it’s important not to confuse cormorants with the African darter, which has a bill that looks like a sharp spear. Cormorants, on the other hand, are experts at propelling themselves through water using their feet. They have long, slender necks, sturdy legs, fully webbed feet, and eyes that often stand out with bright colors. Their bills are curved and pointed, designed to help them catch hold of their prey.

If you ever find yourself in South Africa, you’ll get the chance to encounter some incredible bird species. We have a variety of cormorants here, including the Cape, bank, crowned, white-breasted, and reed cormorants. Interestingly, the reed cormorant is the only non-coastal cormorant we have.

Out of all the coastal species, the Cape cormorant is the one you’re most likely to see. They breed on islands and large offshore boulders stretching from Namibia to Algoa Bay. Sometimes, you might even spot non-breeding Cape cormorants as far up the east coast as northern KwaZulu-Natal.

As you get to know this type of bird better, you’ll notice some distinct features that set it apart from other black cormorants. Its turquoise iris and orange-yellow skin on its face are quite striking. But there’s another kind of black cormorant that looks a bit different. This one has a shorter bill, a more angular forehead, and a duller plumage. It also has a plumper body, an orange-brown iris (that’s strangely greenish underneath), and black skin on its face. This special bird is called the bank cormorant, and it’s actually quite rare to spot one. In fact, this species is endangered and can only be found along the Benguela coast from central Namibia to Cape Agulhas. While some cormorants like to travel around a lot, the bank cormorant prefers to stay close to its breeding colony, typically not straying more than 20 kilometers away.

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Have you ever spotted another black cormorant? They can be found on the rocks or floating above the swell. One type of cormorant, known as the crowned cormorant, is a small marine bird with a short bill and a long tail. It is unique to Southern Africa and can be found from Namibia to the Tsitsikamma coast. You can tell the crowned cormorant apart from other species by its shiny feathers and distinct crest.

While the crowned cormorant typically lives in coastal waters, it sometimes rests in nearby wetlands and estuaries. This can cause confusion, as people might mistake it for the reed cormorant, a bird that resides in lakes, rivers, and dams. To differentiate the two, pay attention to the back feathers. The crowned cormorant’s feathers are uniformly black, whereas the reed cormorant’s feathers are not. Another way to tell them apart is by looking at their breasts. Young reed cormorants have whiter underparts, while young crowned cormorants have a dirty, pale brown color.

I want to tell you about a really cool bird called the white-breasted cormorant. You can find it all along the coast and in most of the land behind it. It’s the largest and heaviest of the five species of cormorants, and it’s really easy to spot because it has a bright white throat and breast. These birds are a perfect example of how nature is all connected, with a special link between the land and the sea.

Why is it so important to protect our coasts?

The future of three cormorant species in South Africa – bank, crowned, and Cape – is uncertain. We’ve noticed a significant decrease in their populations, but we’re still trying to fully understand the reasons behind it. To find a solution, we need to conduct further research and delve into the complexities of this problem. That’s why we’re reaching out to you, the supporters of BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Division.

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We urge you to join our organization by becoming a member. By doing so, you’ll not only contribute to our cause but also help us raise funds for critical scientific investigations. Our mission is to spread environmental awareness and foster a sense of hope for conservation. Together, we can make a difference in protecting these remarkable seabirds.

If you’re ready to take action, visit our website at www.birdlife.org.za to learn more and join today!

(Photo by Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons)

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Exploring the Atlantic Coastline: Searching for Cormorants

Every day, I get to witness a truly remarkable sight along the Atlantic Ocean coastline. It’s the incredible ritual of the near-threatened Cape cormorant, an almost exclusivelive species found in Southern Africa. This bird puts on quite a show, with a black line that dances across the sky and makes the horizon come alive. When they land on the water, their feathers glisten like shiny scales, their wings turn into fins, and bubbles trail behind them as they dive beneath the surface in search of prey.

Now, it’s important not to confuse cormorants with the African darter, which has a bill that looks like a sharp spear. Cormorants, on the other hand, are experts at propelling themselves through water using their feet. They have long, slender necks, sturdy legs, fully webbed feet, and eyes that often stand out with bright colors. Their bills are curved and pointed, designed to help them catch hold of their prey.

If you ever find yourself in South Africa, you’ll get the chance to encounter some incredible bird species. We have a variety of cormorants here, including the Cape, bank, crowned, white-breasted, and reed cormorants. Interestingly, the reed cormorant is the only non-coastal cormorant we have.

Out of all the coastal species, the Cape cormorant is the one you’re most likely to see. They breed on islands and large offshore boulders stretching from Namibia to Algoa Bay. Sometimes, you might even spot non-breeding Cape cormorants as far up the east coast as northern KwaZulu-Natal.

As you get to know this type of bird better, you’ll notice some distinct features that set it apart from other black cormorants. Its turquoise iris and orange-yellow skin on its face are quite striking. But there’s another kind of black cormorant that looks a bit different. This one has a shorter bill, a more angular forehead, and a duller plumage. It also has a plumper body, an orange-brown iris (that’s strangely greenish underneath), and black skin on its face. This special bird is called the bank cormorant, and it’s actually quite rare to spot one. In fact, this species is endangered and can only be found along the Benguela coast from central Namibia to Cape Agulhas. While some cormorants like to travel around a lot, the bank cormorant prefers to stay close to its breeding colony, typically not straying more than 20 kilometers away.

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Have you ever spotted another black cormorant? They can be found on the rocks or floating above the swell. One type of cormorant, known as the crowned cormorant, is a small marine bird with a short bill and a long tail. It is unique to Southern Africa and can be found from Namibia to the Tsitsikamma coast. You can tell the crowned cormorant apart from other species by its shiny feathers and distinct crest.

While the crowned cormorant typically lives in coastal waters, it sometimes rests in nearby wetlands and estuaries. This can cause confusion, as people might mistake it for the reed cormorant, a bird that resides in lakes, rivers, and dams. To differentiate the two, pay attention to the back feathers. The crowned cormorant’s feathers are uniformly black, whereas the reed cormorant’s feathers are not. Another way to tell them apart is by looking at their breasts. Young reed cormorants have whiter underparts, while young crowned cormorants have a dirty, pale brown color.

I want to tell you about a really cool bird called the white-breasted cormorant. You can find it all along the coast and in most of the land behind it. It’s the largest and heaviest of the five species of cormorants, and it’s really easy to spot because it has a bright white throat and breast. These birds are a perfect example of how nature is all connected, with a special link between the land and the sea.

Why is it so important to protect our coasts?

The future of three cormorant species in South Africa – bank, crowned, and Cape – is uncertain. We’ve noticed a significant decrease in their populations, but we’re still trying to fully understand the reasons behind it. To find a solution, we need to conduct further research and delve into the complexities of this problem. That’s why we’re reaching out to you, the supporters of BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Division.

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We urge you to join our organization by becoming a member. By doing so, you’ll not only contribute to our cause but also help us raise funds for critical scientific investigations. Our mission is to spread environmental awareness and foster a sense of hope for conservation. Together, we can make a difference in protecting these remarkable seabirds.

If you’re ready to take action, visit our website at www.birdlife.org.za to learn more and join today!

(Photo by Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons)

Leave a Comment