Waterfowl Wildlife Prone to Human Disturbances

Posted June 29, 2021 by Vindi Sekhon

Every year, hundreds of wildlife seek care and support from individuals like you! Most of the animals in the care at Wildlife Rescue Association are birds, and it’s no surprise. These adaptable creatures share our urban environment, but they face some risks by doing so. Living in a coastal city, we have the unique pleasure of enjoying the sight of many different waterfowl species in our rivers, lakes and oceans.

Waterfowl species live, feed, and breed on the water, so keeping the water and their habitat clean is crucial to their survival.

Lately, Wildlife Rescue has admitted a few Double-crested Cormorants due to natural and human disturbances. Together, we can help provide a safe environment for all waterfowl species so they can thrive and co-exist with humans.

Here are some facts about this unique species of waterfowl and the risks they face here in Metro Vancouver…

  • Double-crested Cormorants make their nesting homes on the coastlines of Southern BC. They are an iridescent greenish-black, with a bright yellow beak, and white tufts over their eyes during the breeding season. Look for them on rocky shorelines diving for fish!
  • Double-crested Cormorants are unique waterfowl. You may have observed these birds perching on the edge of the water, holding their wings up and perfectly still. Unlike ducks, whose feathers are densely spaced and allow water to roll off, cormorant feathers allow water to penetrate, which helps them dive and hunt for fish underwater. The trade-off for this adaptation is that the cormorant must dry its wings in the air, adopting its signature pose.
  • Double-crested Cormorants are so-called because of the tufts of feathers that they grow only during the breeding season. These white tufts are quite striking and can have the appearance of funny eyebrows!

These magnificent birds have been on the decline over the past two decades. There are several threats to the cormorant population in the Metro Vancouver area. The primary human threats come from the nesting colonies being in areas with high amounts of human activity, such as docks and beaches. These nesting colonies can be disturbed by oil spills and motorboat activity. Similarly, double-crested cormorants can become entangled in commercial fishing gear.

Remember to pick up litter and keep your environment safe and clean before and after use. If you come across an animal in distress or are unsure what to do please contact our Support Centre for assistance.


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