|Galapagos Flightless Cormorant|
|Photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography|
cormorant are marine birds that source their food from the sea. With one exception - our unique and remarkable cormorant - cormorants fly above the ocean and dive down to catch the fish on which they survive. Once, our cormorant too flew, just like the other 27 species of cormorants found around our planet. Yet, over time, our unique and beautiful creature evolved and adapted to the rugged and arid volcanic terrain surrounded by salt water that defines the Galapagos Islands.
|Flightless Cormorant Espinosa Point|
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Ask yourself this: "Why use all that energy to fly when you can stand around and take a short swim before returning for a little rest, a little breeding and more standing around in the sunshine?" Maybe you'd choose to adapt too!
|Photo from Wikipedia|
|Squid for Dinner and Offered as Part of the Mating Ritual|
|Cormorant Wings and Iguana|
I’ve been fortunate enough to observe the complex and unique courtship ritual between a male and female flightless cormorant. It’s certainly a rare behavior to catch in progress, but fascinating and spell binding. Here is one of my favorite videos made available on You Tube by Galapagos Expeditions. It is not only beautiful, but rare footage of two flightless cormorants preparing a nest for their eggs.
|Cormorant Mating Ritual, Heads Down|
|Galapagos Flightless Cormorant Couple|
Together, the pair selects a spot on which to construct a nest, generally in a breeding colony consisting of about 12 cormorant pairs. They really are an industrious couple. The nest building project is undertaken by the male and female together. The male forages and brings back items to the female. She, in turn, incorporates the male’s offerings or “gifts” into the nest. Ultimately, the nest will consist of many types of natural materials such as sea weed, sea urchins, starfish, sticks and dead fish; sometimes unnatural elements such as bits of rope or other human garbage unfortunately get to be a part of a nest as well.
|Feeding the Cormorant Chick|
|Cormorant Close Up|
The flightless cormorant, like so much here in the Galapagos Islands, is unique and awe inspiring.