No.9

The Cormorant Dreaming In Chicago Of Monsters

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The First Radiant Seabird

A big one, about a mythic and misunderstood bird. This is a new one– much bigger than the others– about 18 by 24 inches. It is about a mythic Cormorant, several species of fishing birds that are found all over the world.

In some cultures they are revered and in others they are loathed and said to be in league with the devil. In Japan there is a centuries old tradition of fishing with these birds–man and bird fishing together. In upstate New York, commercial fisherman have gone on a tear slaughtering whole colonies of these birds because they compete for fish. Their slaughter of the Cormorants brings to mind the pigeon shoots that wiped out the passenger pigeon over a century ago.

Cormorants are a much misunderstood bird largely due to english literature like Shakespeare and Milton which characterize them as evil.

They are amazing underwater acrobats that can dive 400 feet for their dinner. All in all a fascinating bird and the subject of a new book by Richard J. King called “The Devil’s Cormorant” which covers the natural history of these birds over several continents and cultures. Well worth a read.

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