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Neotropic Cormorant in Dunkirk!

Published April 23, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant

An adult Neotropic Cormorant was spotted by Jim Pawlicki early this morning as it flew WSW along the 90 towards Lake Erie. Gale VerHague, an experienced birder and familiar with the area, followed her instincts and checked out Lake Erie State Park. Miraculously, Gale found the small cormorant as it flew, circling the beach area.

I hoped this would-be life bird would stick around for me as I raced down to the Dunkirk/Fredonia area. However, I arrived to an empty beach and, save some gulls, terns, and a handful of Double-crested Cormorants, not much else was around.  I was just debating on where to look next when Gale joined me, bless her heart! She already had an idea about where to start searching again, so we jumped in our cars and I followed her over to a private pond down Van Buren Road.

Scanning the 80 or so beautiful Double-crested Cormorants, the small Neotropic Cormorant quickly stood out in my scope! Gale's instincts were right on! We both enjoyed watching the little guy preen, fly around, and swim. We knew others were on their way and we nearly had heart attacks when the celebrity flew off twice. Each time, thankfully, it returned to the pond. Other birders soon began arriving and many got a life bird, or, at the very least, a state bird this day.  And who knows - maybe it will stick around for a little while - I think it's quite possible.

As its name suggests, this little guy was pretty far off-course.  The Neotropic Cormorant's upper range is Texas and is generally found in Central and South America. It usually sticks to fresh water lakes, ponds, and rivers and co-mingles with the beautiful Double-crested Cormorants at those locations. Its smaller size, longer tail, and white V-shaped chin patch easily distinguishes it from the Double-crested Cormorant.

I'm surprised this cold, gray, snowy day brought a life bird but - well.... you just never know!
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Neotropic Cormorant (on the right edge) sitting with Double-crested Cormorants
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Neotropic Cormorant flying past other DCCOs
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Neotropic Cormorant taking flight
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Neotropic Cormorant
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Neotropic Cormorant
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Neotropic Cormorant