Draw A Bird Day – Double-crested Cormorant


It’s Draw A Bird Day! Thanks to Laura at Create Art Everyday for starting this monthly celebration last year.

During the summer, double-crested cormorants can be seen in Calgary, in various locations along the Bow River. I have photographed a few – mostly far away shots with little detail and none with head tufts. Only double-crested cormorants who breed in Alaska grow whitish tufts; elsewhere in North America, double-crested cormorants grow less conspicuous black tufts. Both males and females grow these stringy feather tufts during breeding season. This month’s pen and ink and colour pencil drawing is based on a photo in “Bird – The Definitive Visual Guide” edited by Audubon.

Below are a couple of photos of double-crested cormorants (and Canada Geese) hanging out on the Bow River just north of Carburn Park. Adult cormorants have mostly black feathers while juveniles have light to medium brown feathers.



The juvenile below gave me my closest look at a double-crested cormorant so far. The photograph is from last August, near the Harvie Passage on the Bow River (near Pearce Estate Park). He/she is about to hop into the water.


Back in July, Ron Dudley of Feathered Photography posted some beautiful photographs of a double-crested cormorant in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (Utah). He mentioned that some areas in the United States encourage culling of double-crested cormorants since they are perceived as threats to human commercial and recreational fishing. He included links to a couple of articles on the subject. The article in Natural History Magazine gives a good overview of historical double-crested cormorant populations in North America and how they were affected by European settlers. It also discusses why humans dislike these birds – they eat fish, and they sometimes nest in trees in very large colonies and their guano ends up killing all the trees. The author of this article, Richard J. King, also wrote a book titled “The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History”. I’m two chapters in so far – the writing style is very engaging and makes learning about human-cormorant interactions around the world a fascinating experience.

I’ve only ever seen double-crested cormorants in relatively small groups and I’ve only ever perceived them as beautiful. However, there are clearly a lot of people who don’t like these birds in Ontario, since some politicians are trying to pass Bill 205 which would add double-crested cormorants to the list of birds that can be shot on sight in that province. The birds currently on that list are: American crows, brown-headed cowbirds, common grackles, house sparrows, red-winged blackbirds and starlings.


  1. Your drawing is beautiful. I love the way you’ve caught the light on the feathers.
    That’s a lot of interesting information! Humans seem to have a need to get animals to adapt to them, and if not, “off with their heads”! I had no idea so many birds were so actively disliked. Not sure I’d like to hear what animals think of all the havoc we wreak on the world!
    Really. People do much worse things to fish populations and trees than any cormorant. (K)

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    • Thanks for your sweet compliments and interesting comments on animal-human interactions, Kerfe :-). You made me laugh with “off with their heads” (though really it’s an awful thing) and your thoughts on what animals think of us (which reminds me of Teresa Robeson’s pika news cartoon from a while back). I agree with you that humans have a much, much, much larger negative impact on trees and fish populations. I appreciate your last sentence for how well it sums up the issue.

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    • Thanks so much for your lovely compliment, Deborah. I did this drawing a few months ago and I looked at many pen and ink drawings before filling in the outline. For the bird, I made lots of little strokes to create different shades in a specific direction. I did a bit of “whatever” when I did the background. I love the colour of double-breasted cormorant eyes! I’ve never managed to capture the colour with a photo but in this drawing, I got to enjoy their turquoise awesomeness. 🙂

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  2. I love all the details, Myr! So much love put into making this beauty. ❤ Thanks for the info about these birds. Noted its name in my small journal. 🙂

    Humans and the way we behave. Sadly its a kill-kill world we live in. No forgiveness in that.

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    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Carrie Lynn :-). Humans do often gravitate towards getting rid of what they don’t like instead of finding a way to live with it harmoniously. I sometimes find it hard to act harmoniously; but luckily I have kind people around me who inspire me to try. I appreciate that your blog posts inspire kindness.

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  3. There is the “list of birds that can be shot on sight”? How awful?? :O I hate the way humans act like the world is only theirs. As memadtwo previously commented: “Humans seem to have a need to get animals to adapt to them, and if not, “off with their heads”!”

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    • Sorry for taking so long to respond to your comment, Hanna. I do find it upsetting that some birds can be shot by anyone without a permit. At least it isn’t all birds and animals, like it used to be. I try to do my part by not killing spiders anymore. I catch them and put them outside. I did kill two mice recently, though. My cat caught them and I didn’t want her to catch a disease so I killed them. I think most people kill house mice. They aren’t very good guests.


      • Yes, all that -killing animals- theme is not so easy. We all prefer some animal over another. And I guess there aren’t a human who haven’t killed a soul (even one insect is there in everyone’s list).
        And if I come to think, then at least the situation of many animals and birds is getting better. So, instead of thinking about things I can’t change, I just try to be better human myself. 🙂
        Take care!

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