Tuesday, July 31, 2012

See Birds Go Crazy Video, San Francisco Bay

Seabirds Go Crazy, See Birds Go Crazy Video
Flock of Cormorants Feeding Frenzy, Herring Season

It was a calm winter morning on the Sausalito shoreline, herring season. The light was beautiful, and the boats were heading out to set their nets. The Brown Pelicans were keeping watch. Pelicans are known for loafing around harbors and piers in hopes of easy snacks. At this time of year the Brown Pelicans are in mating plumage and quite photogenic. You can tell by the red throat. In the distance a flock of seabirds started to gather. Double-Crested Cormorants. Cormorants can gather in large flocks. Then they started flying towards me. Hundreds of birds. There were Western Gulls in the mix, but they were not really getting it. Both Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants are divers. The can either make precise dive bombs from the air or dive under water to catch fish. Gulls are not that enterprising.

Double-crested Cormorants are an all black bird which gains a small double crest of black and white feathers in breeding season. It has a patch of orange skin around the bill and gular gland. These are birds are a sub-species called the Farallon Cormorant. Farallon Cormorants breeds along the Pacific coast of North America from British Columbia to Bird Island in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico and possibly further South. They are plentiful around the San Francisco Bay and the Gulf of the Farllones.

Both the Brown Pelican and the Double-crested Cormorant were threatened by DDT in the 1960s. The government imposed a ban on DDT in 1972. Both species have made a comeback in population.

The huge flock of birds flew past me obeying the channel markers to navigate out to the open waters of the San Francisco Bay. Coincidence? Probably just following the path of "Skully Bones" and other herring boats.

The footage may seem prolonged, but in reality compared to how many and how long the Seabirds flew past me, it is very short. I came back two days later and filmed the feeding frenzy from the point of view out to the San Francisco Bay with the sun rising behind the flock. The feeding frenzy lasted 45 minutes or more and about 15 minutes of that footage has been condensed into less then a minute of time-lapsed footage. The sunrises magically behind the flock.

And then it was over. Like that the water goes calm and the birds come back.

Double-crested Cormorants, like all Cormorants, are not waterproof. Their feathers do not have oil so that they may dive to extraordinary depths to catch fish. After the feeding event they lined the docks and other waterfront objects to hang their feathers out to dry.

Brown Pelicans have oil glands on the back of their heads and they use their necks to rub the oil around and then preen their feathers.

In the distance a Black-crowned Night Heron remains motionless on a piling. Black-crowned Night Herons can remain motionless for a long time. It is effective for catching their prey, but they also maintain the stance while hanging out. That is another story.

Song: "Natural Inspirations"
by Lachlan Scotland and David Keys
Original Music created for San Francisco Bay Digital Images/ 2009

Relevant Links:

Point Reyes Bird Observatory
PRBO Conservation Science is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research and outreach. Founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, 120 staff and seasonal biologists study birds to protect and enhance biodiversity in marine, terrestrial and wetland systems in western North America.

Marin Audubon Society
Website - Marin Audubon Society
A great resource for birding in Marin County.

Oikonos, Winged Ambassadors
Oikonos works locally and internationally to increase understanding of human impacts on marine ecosystems and improve biodiversity conservation on imperiled islands.

Double-crested Cormorants

Brown Pelicans

Western Gulls

Black-crowned Night Heron

Sausalito, California
(See SF Bay Digital Images Video Footage)

Location: Sausalito, California, United States of America
San Francisco Bay Digital Images. All Rights Reserved.

List of San Francisco Bay and Close Surrounding Area SeaBirds:

  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Pomarine Jaeger
  • Long-Tailed Jaeger
  • South Polar Skua
  • Bonaparte's Gull
  • California Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Western Gull
  • Heerman's gull
  • Sabine'sg gull
  • Black-Legged Kittiwake
  • Elegant Tern
  • Common Tern
  • Artic Tern
  • Caspian Tern
  • Forster's Tern
  • Rhinoceros auklet
  • Common Murre
  • Cassin's Auklet
  • Pigeon Guillimot
  • Tufted Puffin
  • Ancient Murrelet
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Xantus's Murrelet
  • Laysan Albatross
  • Black Footed Albatross
  • Buller's Shearwater
  • Northern Fulmar
  • Pink-footed Shearwater
  • Black-vented Shearwater
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Flesh-Footed Shearwater
  • Short-Tailed Shearwater
  • Leach's Storm-Petrel
  • Ashy Storm-Petrel

  • Brown Pelican
  • Brandt's Cormorant
  • Pelegic Cormorant
  • Double-Crested Cormorant
  • Greater Scaup
  • Surf Scoter
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • Black Oyster Catcher
  • Red Phhalarope
  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy White Egret
  • Common Loon or Great Northern diver (Gavia immer), This is the Loon most often seen wintering on the San Francisco Bay
  • These are Loons that winter in California and are Occaisonnally seen in this area:
  • Red-throated loon or Red-throated diver (G. stellata)
  • Yellow-billed loon or White-billed diver (G. adamsii)
  • Pacific loon (G. pacifica), known as black-throated divers
  • Arctic loon (G. arctica), known as black-throated divers
  • Western Grebe
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