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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Nosing around for a Neotropic Cormorant

On July 27 (while I was away on the MS bike ride), Bruce Fall found a Neotropic Cormorant at Richfield Lake Park in Minneapolis! This is within 5 miles of my home, but I was still out in western Minnesota - I just had to hope that this bird would stick around for a few days at least. Neotropic Cormorants are not usual to have in Minnesota, nor anywhere nearby. The closest that they breed is in Arkansas!

Kellie and I got home on July 28, but we'd already biked about 65 miles that day and it was thunderstorming (see the bit about a tornado in the last post)! So we didn't go out looking for the cormorant that day. The next day, I biked out to work in Eagan. While there, I saw that people were still seeing the Neotropic Cormorant! Kellie and I agreed to meet at Richfield Lake after I was done with work.

I biked from work all the way to Richfield. Kellie beat me there and was waiting at our agreed upon meeting spot. We could see a number of cormorants around, but all of them seemed to be Double-crested Cormorants (the expected species in MN). We saw a few other birders around the lake who were clearly looking for the bird. We chatted a bit and exchanged information, but then continued to walk around the path that encircles the lake. There are a number of islands in the middle of the lake, and the cormorants like to perch up on those trees. I had heard that the Neotropic was often seen in those trees. We kept checking those birds to see if any looked different, but came up empty. There were also a number of cormorants flying about at various times, and we tried to spy if any of those were the Neotropic, but weren't having any luck with that either. Some birders we talked to indicated that they might head over to nearby Wood Lake to see if the bird had gone over there. Kellie and I continued to walk around the lake, until Kellie spotted a cormorant sitting on a log in the water, not near any other cormorants. I looked through my binoculars and saw that cool, white v-shaped border around their chin that Neotropic Cormorants sport. I started to get excited - "Yes, Kellie, you found it!" We kept watching the bird and trying to get photos, as well as alerting the other birders that we'd located the target bird.

Neotropic Cormorant at Richfield Lake
Boom! #219!

After a while, the Neotropic started to do some swimming. We got to watch as it swam and fished - it would dive for a while and then resurface, sometimes at quite a distance from where it had gone down. After a while it hauled itself out onto a different log near some Mallards. It sat there, with its wings spread (drying them out) for a while, and then flew off.

Neotropic Cormorant with its wings spread

I was glad that the cormorant stuck around until I could get back to see it! That was another nice rarity to pick up for my green birding year!

Miles biked on this trip: 34.4

Miles biked year to date: 2090.6

Species count (MN): 219

Species count (overall): 220

My bike birding eBird profile: (Please note that you need a free eBird account to see profiles in eBird)

Fundraising links for the two organizations I am supporting with this green big half year. These causes are really important and they could really use your dollars to do a lot of good!

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