Resting Double-crested Cormorant at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Double-crested Cormorant preening on a stumpDouble-crested Cormorant preening on a stump – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I spent the morning at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge yesterday and one of the birds I photographed the most was this resting Double-crested Cormorant. There aren’t many trees on the refuge so finding any bird on a stump is a treat for me, especially a stump as nicely weathered as this one is. The cormorant preened and rubbed its head over its back and wings several times.

Double-crested Cormorant resting on a stumpDouble-crested Cormorant resting on a stump – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Most of the time it was just resting on the stump in the warmth of the sun. I could see that the cormorant was shivering slightly and the temp was in the low 50’s at the time. It may have already gone fishing for its breakfast and was drying out after it consumed its prey. I love the emerald green eye color of Double-crested Cormorants, out here in Utah they seem a bit more subdued than the cormorants I saw in Florida but they are still vibrant, sparkling and jewel-like.

Double-crested Cormorant on a stumpDouble-crested Cormorant on a stump – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1600, ISO 400, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I took just over 400 photos of this cormorant yesterday morning because it was so cooperative and didn’t fly off right away. Double-crested Cormorants are common here in Utah during the breeding season and are seen at the refuge frequently.

There were plenty of birds to be seen yesterday from the auto tour loop at the refuge including tiny grebe chicks riding on the backs of their parents, shorebirds, pelicans, herons and I even spotted two long-tailed weasels but I didn’t see them soon enough to photograph them as they ran down the road chasing each other. The refuge is busy and full of life this time of the year.

Life is good.



  1. Patty Chadwick June 17, 2016 at 9:45 am

    A beautiful, interesting bird….love the old stump, too…..

  2. April Olson June 17, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Beautiful poses

  3. Catherine B June 17, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Mia thanks you for these splendid pictures. Cormorant are beautiful birds.
    and this nature scene is impressive.

  4. Marie Read June 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Cool that you saw weasels…I saw one a couple of times while I was there a few weeks back…it was too darned fast to get my lens on though!

  5. Bob McPherson June 17, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Beautiful photos Mia. Looks like the Cormorants from around the Gulf Coast.

  6. Roger Burnard June 17, 2016 at 5:55 am

    I love this series Mia… That dead stump really adds to the composition.
    True, this bird was very cooperative, and those 400 images didn’t cost
    you a single penny. I believe that when the opportunity arises, and the
    subject cooperates, then go ahead, and “shoot, shoot, and shoot some
    more..”. I’m betting there was a big smile on your face each time you
    clicked that shutter. Keep up the good work… ;-)))

  7. Linda Laugen June 17, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Q’s – do cormorants ride low in the water as loons do? And do they carry their young on their backs? This one is smaller than I’d have thought – is it an adult? THANKS! PS – I guess I should Google this – !

    • Mia McPherson June 17, 2016 at 5:40 am

      Linda, Cormorants can ride low in the water. They don’t carry their young on their backs like loons of grebes, I believe by the time their young fledge from the nest they are able fly on their own. I think this cormorant may look smaller because the stump is very large! Their length is between 27 and 35 inches with a wingspan of 44 to 48 inches.

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