I'll fly away...

     The harsh cold throes of winter are upon those of you in the Northern hinterlands. In Florida it is the grey gloomy skies of the rainy season. However, we did make the national news feeds when we experienced a day with some visible snow flurries. Any of you snow birds ready to fly away to Florida? At this time of year I see Pelicans, beautiful Hooded Mergansers, Grebes and Snowy Egrets. Another winter visitor to the Broward is the Double-crested Cormorant, a surface diving bird.

      From a distance, Double-crested Cormorants are dark birds with snaky necks, but up-close they’re quite colorful—with orange-yellow skin on their face and throat, striking aquamarine eyes that sparkle like jewels, and a mouth that is bright blue on the inside.  Per the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, “The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigate birds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.”

      Cormorants main two activities are fishing and resting, with more than half their day spent on the latter. When at rest, a cormorant will choose an exposed spot on a bare branch or a windblown rock, and often spread its wings out, which is thought to be a means of drying their feathers after fishing. The “double-crest” of the Double-crested Cormorant is only visible on adults during the summer breeding season. I think they look like a grinning Jack Nicholson myself. They are year round residents in Florida but I mainly see them in the winter non-breeding season on the Broward. About a half dozen of these hungry cormorants came swimming round the island hunting in the early morning light and passed right by me on the dock. One finally noticed me and suddenly launched upwards like a rocket! The others dove and swam away.

      For some of us there is a belief we are going to take off like that cormorant. We are going to be swimming along in life and look up, take off, and “fly away” just like the Albert E Brumley’s epic gospel tune of the same name. Till then, just keep swimming and be Blessed. Harry

Dark grey clouds roll across the sky over the Broward..

Snake like bird necks appear in the channel as about a half dozen double-crested cormorants commence their morning feeding on the Broward

Up-close they’re quite colorful—with orange-yellow skin on their face and throat, striking aquamarine eyes that sparkle like jewels

During breeding season the double-crested feathers protrude from around the eyes which become even more iridescent ..Photo by Jack Rogers with permission.

Cormorants spend half their time fishing…like the fortunate one on the left…and

The other half of the time they spend resting and drying out their wings in this classic  pose..nice life!

One by one the cormorants swim by me on the dock...

Once glances upward as I push the doohickey!

The cormorant suddenly launches skyward like a rocket taking off!

Someday like this cormorant…I'll fly away

email: selsorhd@me.com

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