It’s A Bird…It’s A Duck…It’s A Cormorant!

“There’s some sort of a duck in my yard and it has a broken leg.”  Three calls similar to this one came in over a one week period recently and the animal in all three cases turned out to be a cormorant.  A lady called about some strange duck like bird in the parking lot at Walmart in Mesa. Several hours later, a man called about this big, black bird in his yard abouta mile north of the Walmart store.  And this past Sunday, Ginger Duplisse received a rescue call about a funny looking duck with broken legs in a yard in Chandler.  First we have raging dust storms and now it’s raining cormorants in the East Valley. Cormorants are fish eating water birds with webbed feet and a straight bill.Their feet are set back on the body so they are awkward walkers on land,which is why so many people think they have a broken leg.  More and more cormorants have made the artificial lakes in the Valley their home.  Since their feathers become saturated as soon as they hit the water, they can often be seen on a dock or lakeside with wings held out to dry.

Double-crested cormorant

Black in color, they weigh about two and a half to three and a half pounds depending on species so they are a good sized bird to find nestled in yourgeraniums.  Proceed with caution!  The bill has a hook at the end for grabbing fish and also lashing out at any supposed predators including rescue volunteers. 

Ginger was able to throw a towel over the bird and pick him up that way to get him into a carrier. 

In most cases, the bird isn’t injured at all.  It has come down into a swimming pool or irrigation or possible was blown down by the wind and cannot get back up in the sky.  These birds need a long enough lake for take off so they are stranded unless they are rescued.  Left in a yard or parking lot especially during the summer, they’ll get overheated and dehydrated so it’s important to get them into water ASAP. 

Other water birds that need a lake runway for take off are coots, mergansers, loons, and grebes. 

submitted by: Nancy – From The Director’s Desk

Blogger’s Note:  There are two types of cormorants making Arizona their home. One is the Neotropic cormorant and the other is the Double-crested cormorant with orange on the face and green eyes.

Neotropic cormorant

Rescued cormorant


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