Illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert shares depictions and information on coastal birds
Whether the goofy-looking birds are lined up on the walls around the lake in Evia on Galveston’s West End or perched on ropes at the Pier 21 wharf — wings outstretched to dry — many an islander assumes they’re the ubiquitous double-crested cormorant. Cormorants they are, but some of these inky black diving birds might belong to a slightly different species — the neotropic cormorant. To distinguish between them, which can prove difficult as they frequently flock together, it’s helpful to note neotropic cormorants are smaller in stature and sport a longer tail than the double-crested variety. Also, neotropic cormorants sometimes will dive into the water from a few feet above, whereas the double-crested usually initiates a dive directly from the water’s surface.
FUN FACT: On account of the bird’s pig-like grunting sounds, some people in Spanish-speaking countries refer to cormorants as “pig ducks” or “dirty ducks.”