Saturday, March 5, 2011

Anhinga and Double-crested Cormorant, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

An Anhinga with its long pointed bill, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

An Anhinga drying its wings after making a dive, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
After spending a couple hours hiking through the Yucatan jungle searching for land birds, Luis (Luis Ku, bird guide) brought us to a wetland area in Puerto Morelos to look for water birds. It didn't take long to find them. In less than an hour we saw Anhingas (Above), a Tri-colored Heron, American Coots, Northern Jacanas, Black-necked Stilts, Least Sandpipers, a Glossy Ibis, Belted Kingfishers, Great Kiskadees, Killdeers, Double-crested Cormorants (Below), a Green Heron, a Northern Waterthrush, and a non-water bird - Yellow-headed Vulture flew over.

Anhingas and Cormorants are both similar in that they are both expert swimmers and dive deep into the water to hunt for fish. However their feathers lack the water-repellent oils that other diving birds possess, and their feathers become saturated with sea water. Because of this they need to sit out in the sun and the air with their wings spread out to dry off.  They are similar in size with the Anhinga being an inch or two longer. Some differences are: the Anhinga has a longer bill that is used for spearing fish and are less common than the Double-crested Cormorant. DC-Cormorants have a shorter stubbier bill which they use more like a hook. Anhingas are more local to the Southeast and can be found along the gulf coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, Texas, and Mexico, whereas the DC-Cormorant is much more common and spread out throughout the U.S. from coast to coast and from Mexico to Canada.

A Double-crested Cormorant landing in the water, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

The same Double-crested Cormorant. You can see its shorter stubbier bill, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
I also can't end this post without stating how common crocodiles were along the banks of both out of the way places as well as fairly populated areas. It wasn't more than a couple of minutes after we hopped out of Luis's van, walking along a stretch of marshland looking at a Belted Kingfisher, when I was startled by splash in the reeds next to me. Apparently I wasn't the only one startled, because a crocodile who just made its escape from mean old me had jumped to safety into the water (Below).
A Crocodle trying to escape from the ferocious Northern Illinois Birder; Puerto morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

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