Bird watching is a beloved past time for the people of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, and the Anderton Centre is overjoyed to be the home of a diverse range of bird life on our grounds. One of our most beloved visitors is the Cormorant that likes to perch on the buoys on our reservoir.
In a sense, the cormorant’s ubiquity in being widespread across the world, their adaptability in being able to survive (and thrive) in coastal and inland areas, and their love for water and land like the range of activities we provide, are emblematic of the Anderton Centre’s commitment to customers to include everyone from all walks of life and how we can cater to the needs of anyone who walks through our door!
Here are some fascinating facts about the Cormorant that you may not know about:
- Cormorants have been historically used in Japan for fishing. The art of Ukai involves attaching a leash to the bird which then goes into the water. The cormorant bags the bigger fish for the fishermen, and keeps the smaller fish for themselves. It has been practiced for 1300 years, and has also been observed in China, North Macedonia, Greece, but briefly in England and France as well. (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2426.html)
- Their poo (also called guano) is highly acidic, and can damage trees and plant life and can affect soil quality. Because of this, they nest on the ground. There are also reports of cormorant poo corroding the coating of the Astoria-Megler Bridge in Oregon, United States, costing the Oregon Department of Transportation lots of money! (https://icwdm.org/species/birds/cormorants/cormorant-biology/, https://www.opb.org/article/2023/11/20/double-crested-cormorants-conundrum-biologists/ )
- When Charles Darwin went to the Galapagos, he was surprised to find that the Galapagos Cormorant had lost the ability to fly, and it is the only species out of the 40 of the cormorants that is flightless. Theories behind why they lost this ability include not needing to fly for the purposes of migration or evading predators, allowing mutations that affect flight to accumulate uncontested, or because flightlessness allowed the species to improve on another attribute they may have, such as swimming. This is known as positive selection. (https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/how-the-galapagos-cormorant-lost-its-ability-to-fly?fbclid=IwAR3gOokHuM5rOWKcz-GqHYcr0l1s79QyCMtyOZmO_xl4DTldyrSBO90kmJU)
- The name Cormorant comes from the Latin ‘corvus marina’ meaning ‘crow of the sea’ or ‘sea-crow’ which we believe would be an adorable alternative name for these lovely creatures! (https://web.colby.edu/mainebirds/2020/04/09/the-etymology-of-common-names-of-birds/#:~:text=Cormorant%20comes%20from%20two%20Latin,of%20the%20word%20is%20charming.)
- In New Zealand, the Māori people would sometimes eat cormorants, or ‘kawau’ as they are called in the indigenous language. James Cook on his voyage also ate cormorant and claimed that ‘whether roasted or stewed we considered as very good provision.’ https://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-BesFore-t1-body-d2-d6-d32.html
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY