Description of the flightless cormorant
The flightless cormorant, also known as the Galapagos cormorant, is a species of cormorant endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Unlike most other cormorant species, the flightless cormorant cannot fly, as it has lost the ability to fly over time due to the lack of predators on the Galapagos Islands. The flightless cormorant is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 3 feet in length and weighing between 3 and 5 pounds. It has a slender and elongated body with a hooked and pointed beak, and webbed feet for swimming underwater. Its feathers are mainly black with greenish and bluish metallic highlights on the wings and tail. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, able to dive up to 100 feet deep to catch fish and other underwater prey. It feeds mainly on small fish, octopus and crabs. The flightless cormorant is a gregarious bird, which lives in colonies on the rocky coasts and islets of the Galapagos Islands. It is active during the day, spending most of its time swimming and diving in search of food. The flightless cormorant is also known for its unusual sun-drying behavior, where it spreads its wings to dry them after diving underwater, which is a necessary adaptation to prevent its feathers from becoming waterlogged and weighing down its body.
When to see them?
Flightless cormorants can be observed all year round in Galapagos, as they do not migrate and live exclusively on the archipelago. The best periods to observe the flightless cormorants in their breeding and courtship behavior are usually between May and November, which also corresponds to the dry season in Galapagos. During this period, they gather to form nesting colonies and the males perform their courtship rituals to attract the females, which can be a fascinating spectacle to watch.
Where to observe them?
Flightless cormorants can be observed on the different islands of the archipelago, especially on the islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana and Santiago, where they form nesting colonies and gather to fish. They are coastal birds, inhabiting mainly the rocky coasts, cliffs and islets of the archipelago.