[CT Birds] Great Cormorant decline

greg hanisek ctgregh at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 9 10:20:03 EST 2010

I read somewhere in the past year (but can't remember where) that in Maine and/or the Maritimes the burgeoning Bald Eagle population is reducing the Great Cormorant population through predation. A quick look on the Web turned up the following on a science Web site:
"On the rocky islands off the Maine coast, recently recovered bald eagles are eating rare great cormorant chicks. In the 1960s there were 400 Bald eagle pairs in the entire United States. Now, there are 500 pairs in Maine, the largest population in the Northeast. Bald eagles are no longer technically endangered, but they’re still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Golden and Bald Eagle Protection Act. (In other words, it’s illegal to kill a bald eagle.)
Great cormorants aren’t technically endangered either, but there’s only one place they nest in the United States—the rocky islands off the coast of Maine—and their numbers are dropping quickly. In 1992, there were 250 great cormorant pairs in Maine. Now there are 80, thanks mostly to harassment and predation by bald eagles. The bald eagles are supposed to be eating fish, but overfishing has made fish rather hard to find. With their preferred prey playing hard-to-get, bald eagles have turned to something easy—great cormorant chicks."
Greg Hanisek

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