Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus. Photographed with my Olympus E-3 and Zuiko 70-300mm. The birds were silhouetted in late afternoon light, high ISO 1000, some post-processing NR to compensate for the darker conditions..

I shot this series along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle. If you’ve watched Double-crested Cormorants [literally] coming home to roost, you know that the process of securing a branch of one’s own can be arduous.

These cormorant wings are designed for speedy flight, not harrier-style hovers. Their tree landings are further complicated by cormorants who’ve landed first and who prefer at least a wingspan’s worth of territory around their coveted perch.

The process goes like this if you’re a Double-crested Cormorant in Seattle:

  • Catch the wind under the Aurora Bridge and sail into roosting territory
  • Circle around to gain altitude for the approach
  • Approach high with a branch or two in mind, in your favorite tree, preferably already occupied by a few friends
  • Descend and just hope that your cormorant friends don’t boot you from your intended perch
  • Land and flail until you stabilize yourself on the branch — or —
  • Get rejected by an existing cormorant, pull up quick from your descent, recover, circle again to get some height, then try for another branch or another tree

Double-crested Cormorant Landing

The Approach – ©ingridtaylar

Double-Crested Cormorant Landing at Roost

The Descent – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant in Flight

Pulling Up From the Dive – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant in Flight Seattle

The Recovery – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant at Lake Washington Ship Canal

Circling – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant Perched in Tree in Seattle

Perched Neighbor – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant Landing in Tree

The Landing – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant in Roost

Stabilizing – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorant Perched in Tree

Settling In – ©ingridtaylar

Double-crested Cormorants Territorial at Roost

Territoriality – ©ingridtaylar

Shot with my Olympus E-3 • Zuiko 70-300mm • ISO1000 • 1/1000