In the spring, Robb and I enjoy a delightful view of Double Crested Cormorants, flying past our apartment window with nesting material in their beaks. Big spooky-looking birds trailing grass or impressive sticks, right outside our living room window. What's not to love?
These birds are most likely headed to the islands in the middle of Lake Merritt, where they share a rookery with a number of egrets.
It seems that these large fish-eating birds, which are a "species of special concern" in California, also roost on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. If I'm reading the information correctly, six hundred pairs roost on the bridge, making it the second-largest breeding colony in Northern California.
Since Caltrans is in the midst of a huge project to replace this 1930s bridge, there's work being done to entice the cormorant population onto "Cormorant Condos" on the new bridge. In accordance with state and federal regulation, the cormorants' (along with the federally endangered Least Tern's, Peregrine Falcon's and Brown Pelican's) nesting behavior has been studied. New nesting platforms have been constructed to accomodate the cormorants, and if the birds need an incentive to move into their newly constructed homes, there's a plan in place for that.
Painted silhouettes of cormorants, recordings of nesting colonies, and mirrors are all under consideration.
Have I mentioned that I love living in California?