Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What is that Cormorant doing? And what are those thumps on the roof?

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Remember the Double Crested Cormorants that frequent The Model Boat Pond in Central Park and scarf down the fish that are carefully released into it's waters every Spring?

It turns out they tend toward "special behavior" when they feel threatened. Here's a link to an article from the New York Times about the Cormorants that nest in our Harbor, sent in by Bill Walters, fount of many a good link.
NEW YORK REGION August 22, 2007
A Queens College biology student has been traveling to an island in New York Harbor to study the feeding habits of cormorants, which are prodigious vomiters.

And from Karen Anne Kolling frequent contributor to the blog, a report on her enterprising local gulls--

I live near the water, so there are lots of gulls around. They like to drop the shellfish they catch on the roofs of houses here to break open the shells. I can see the appeal of the roofs for this, because if you watch them trying to drop shellfish on a rock, they have to be high up enough to have the fall do damage, but that's about high up enough for the wind to blow it off course and miss the comparatively small rocks.

So a brief visit to the lawn and deck gives an idea of what shellfish they are catching. Mostly there are the remains of crabs but there is the occasional quahog and once even a conch, although the latter had not been eaten. Everything else is picked clean, fortunately.

I haven't figured out how they get the quahogs, which live several inches under sand that is covered by at least shallow water all the time. Do they actually poke around in the sand until they feel them, or do quahogs occasionally come to the surface for some reason.

At first I was grossed out by the remnants of the crabs (few things more creepy than a bunch of legs lying around), but now I just run over everything with the lawn mower and hardly notice. I hardly notice the thumps of stuff hitting the roof any more either.


I'd love to know if these gulls use sentries when dropping goodies on people's roofs. Maybe Karen will check it out for us.

Donegal Browne

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