Double Trouble

Over the last few years, I had been fortunate enough to study numerous species of birds.  In 2010 I interned at the World Bird Sanctuary.  The experience was terrific and I was able to work up close with many raptors.  I spent the summer of 2011 running around the beaches on the Gulf Coast and chasing after plovers, terns and oystercatchers.  The last three field seasons have involved songbird point counts in southern Indiana.  During this time, I’ve acquired an affinity for creating stories, songs and puns involving birds.  One of my most recent efforts is about a boy who is vacationing at a beach on the east coast.  A bird comes in and the boy thinks he is seeing a Great Cormorant for the first time.  Unfortunately, he’s actually watching a Double-crested Cormorant.  As the story unfolds, he begins to realize his mistake and this song is his lament. 

Before I give you the song, let’s learn a bit about cormorants.  Cormorants are waterbirds that dive into water to catch fish.  They are fairly large with hooked bills and dark feathers.  They are also very good swimmers.  In fact, a trained cormorant recently beat Michael Phelps in a 100m race in Thailand.  Phelps complained after the event about the requirement of swallowing three fish before the finish line.  He also mentioned something about experiencing pain after starting the race by diving from 50m up.  Anyway, cormorants are not great fliers and sometimes flocks will fly in crooked v-shaped formations.  One interesting thing about cormorants is that they have less oil on their feathers than other waterbirds.  Many birds that spend a lot of time on the water have preen oils which allow them to shed water.  Cormorants often end up with wet feathers after a dive.  This makes it hard for them to fly so they compensate for this problem by sunning themselves.  Scientists believe that the wetter feathers of cormorants allows them to speed through the water when chasing fish.  

I’m not going to go into detail about Great Cormorants, but here is a picture for reference.

Breeding adult

Nigel Voaden, Solomon Islands, March 2013)

Double-crested Cormorants are named for the double crest that appears during the breeding season.  As you look as the pictures below, note that the Double-crested Cormorant does not have the white flank patch visible on the Great.  Also, Great Cormorants have a pale outline around their face/bill.

Double-crested Cormorant PhotoBreeding adult

David Stephens, CO, Cherry Creek State Park, May 2010)

Wow, I just burst out in laughter while reading about Double-Crested Cormorants.  Apparently large rocks are sometimes found in cormorants nests and the adults will treat them like eggs.  Also they use unusual materials to make their nests such as rope, plastic, fishing equipment and parts of dead birds.  WHAT!?!?!?  Yes, you read that right.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, cormorant nests have been found with bird body parts.  These cormorants are crazy!  I guess that makes for interesting conversations between a pair.  Male – “Hey honey, I finished building our dream home.”  Female – “What is this junk?  And what is that pelican foot doing in our nest?  Oh well, I suppose I’ll just incubate some rocks by the seagull eyes and the green balloons while you catch dinner.”

My song is based on the very popular song ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ by Taylor Swift.  Look it up if you’ve somehow never heard it before.  Now without further ado, here is ‘I Knew You Were Double’

I Knew You Were Double

(To the tune of Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble)

Verse 1
Once upon a time, a few summers ago
You were in my sights, I got you alone
Around the sea, around the sea,
Around the sea-e-e-e-e
You didn’t come real close, and I didn’t like that
And when I rose up, you took a step back
Without me, without me,
Without me-e-e-e-e

And he’s long gone
When he flew by me
And I realize, the blame is on me

Cause I knew you were Double when you dove in,
So shame on me now, flew me to places I’d never been
Till you put me down, oh
I knew you were Double when you dove in,
So shame on me now, flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the hot soft sand
Oh, oh, double double double
Oh, oh, double double double

Verse 2
I really thought you were, a nice Great Cormorant
I must have been quite blind, you clearly were not that
You’re diving, you’re diving,
You’re diving-ing-ing-ing-ing
And I heard you call out, the croaking by the sea
You’re slimmer than a Great, no white patch is the key
And now I see, now I see
Now I see-e-e-e-e

He was long gone
When he saw me
And I realize, the joke is on me

Repeat Chorus

And the awkward truth, comes creeping in
That you were a Double, Crested, Cormorant, and not a Great

Repeat Chorus


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