May 8, 2011
I was 100% sure this was an anhinga, until a knowledgeable looking woman casually remarked from behind her binoculars, 'Ooh, the cormorants here are just wonderful!' That was a puzzling comment. I'm an amateur ornithologist but I know an anhinga when I see one. Or so I thought. Nonchalantly, I made my way to the bird identification sign located a few yards away at the Venice rookery. It indicated both cormorants and anhingas reside here and, much to my surprise, they look remarkably similar. So, after studying my Birds of Florida field guide, I can now say with 110% certainty this is a double-crested cormorant. From this view, the only distinguishing difference is that the cormorant has a hooked beak. And, this guy used that hook to nab three fish in less than ten minutes -- quite an impressive fisherman. My neighbor Ernie tipped me off to the rookery awhile ago, but I rarely find myself in that part of Sarasota County. So, after meeting a friend for lunch down there recently, I made a point to find the rookery. It's tucked off a main highway and packed with feathered creatures, including lots of juveniles right now. So, expect to see more birds pics. And, yes, I'll be using my trusty field guide to assist with the ID.