Photo by Fred Cohen Photography
It's only close up that you can see the striking patterned plumage and iridescent coloring of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), who are migratory waterbirds that spend their winters on the Gulf Coast and their summers in fresh water lakes across the Northeast. New York City lies on the Atlantic ancient migratory flyway, and although the parks and bodies of water seem an oasis to birds traveling this route, the city's buildings and skyscrapers create an obstacle course particularly hazardous to first-year migrants.
At the Wild Bird Fund, the cormorant was treated for dehydration and was put on a hearty diet of fish, monitored for long-term brain injury, and got twice daily swims in the rehabilitation pool. Cormorants are expert divers, and unlike most water birds their feathers actually trap water to reduce buoyancy, allowing them to reach depths of up to 20 feet. Afterward they stand with wings stretched out to dry by the sun.