Yesterday I posted about a double-crested cormorant that found its way into our Wetland here at the Museum. I speculated as to how the bird ended up here, whether it was ill or simply separated from the flock it may have been traveling with. Cormorants are commonly seen at local lakes and reservoirs but this was the first I had seen in our Wetland.
As it turns out, the bird was probably ill. Ranger Rock spotted part of a wing not far from where the bird had been perched the day before. We were not able to locate mush else other than the outer portion of the wing where the primary feathers are attached. Taking advantage of its weakened state, something had preyed upon the cormorant during the night.
It’s difficult to tell exactly what preyed on the bird, but it seems to me that it was a mammal. The area around the wing was matted down and wet. The wing was on a small island, and whatever had been near the wing would have had to swim to reach the site, leaving water and matted down leave litter where it stood.
Of course, it may instead have been an owl or hawk. Although I didn’t see any smaller feathers or pieces of the bird in the area. Hawks and owls tend to leave behind feathers and chunks of flesh in the wake of tearing and ripping large prey with their bills. The bulk of the cormorant, in any case, had been carried off to be consumed elsewhere.
We will never know the exact circumstances of the cormorant’s demise.