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What a difference a wing makes?

What a difference a wing makes?
Photo Information
Copyright: Selen Ediger (SelenE) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-04
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Endangered, Birds of Ecuador [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-06-12 4:33
Viewed: 3970
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Good morning friends,
I have uploaded a post of a Flightless Cormorant before. Todays post is a quite large one in size 795x798 , hope you won't have any difficulties watching it in your screen.I must admit that the photo of the great cormorants is out of focus, but I had to choose that one for the comparison. I wanted to show you the difference of the wings of two different cormorants. One being the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly.

Both photos were taken when the birds were drying their wings, so the behaviour was the same.

As a bonus in the lower photo we have a curious Turkish guy; a Grey heron who was willing to get involved in this documentation a lot.

Upper photo: Flightless Cormorant taken in Fernandina Island- Galapagos / Ecuador
Lower photo: The Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Bafa Lake- Mugla / Turkey

Flightless Cormorant
Nannopterum harrisi
Endemic (found only in Galapagos)
Red List Status: Endangered

The Flightless Cormorant is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands, and an example of the highly unusual fauna there. It is unique in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly.
With only 1500 estimated individuals, it is one of the world's rarest birds and is the subject of an active conservation programme. (wikipedia)

The only cormorant found in the islands , the flightless cormorant is a(95cm) dark brown-to-black bird. Aptyl named owing to its complete inability to fly. It is also the heaviest member of the family.Like other flightless birds, the sternum (breastbone) has lost the pronounced keel, which in most birds is the site of attachment for the well-developed flight muscles. Its wings are no more than vestigial appendages which appear to serve no useful purpose.

Unmistakable when seen hanging its stubby wings out to dry after coming ashore. When in the water, the body is almost entirely submerged with just the snake-like head and neck visible. Adults are black above and dark brown below, but look completely black when wet. Juveniles are completely black. They have large, black-webbed feet with very short sturdy black legs. The eyes are brilliant turquoise and the bill is long and strong , with a pronounced hook at the tip. The males are noticeably larger than the females.

Biology and the loss of flight
It is thought that the loss of flight in this species is the result of a long period of evolution on isolated, predator-free islands, as well as the fact that they forage in a very small area. Unlike penguins, which ‘fly' through the water using their flipper-like wings, the flightless cormorant propels itself by kicking its strongly-built legs.

The flightless cormorant feeds on octopuses, eels and bottom-dwelling fishes, which it hunts for by making pursuit-dives. All cormorants are aquatic predators, but their feathers are not waterproof. A behaviour characteristic of the family is to adopt a stance after emerging from the water in which the wings are held open in order to dry the feathers. Flightless cormorants retain this behaviour, and are commonly seen holding their small ragged wings at their sides.

Great Cormorant
It is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in much of the Old World and the Atlantic coast of North America.

The Great Cormorant is a large black bird, 77-94 cm in length with a 121-149 cm wingspan. It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have white thigh patches in the breeding season. In European waters it can be distinguished from the Common Shag by its larger size, heavier build, thicker bill, lack of a crest and plumage without any green tinge.

Galapagos Conservation Trust – flightless cormorant

*Livezey, B.C. (1992) Flightlessness in the Galapagos cormorant (Compsohalieus [Nannopterum] harrisi): heterochrony, gigantism and specialisation. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 105: 155.

*Allaby, M. (1991) The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

The flightless cormorant – Prof. Robert H. Rothman

El Nino and the Evolution of Flightlessness in the Galapagos Flightless Cormorant

egeerhan, iris, blakitan, dew77, JORAPAVI, kjpweb, pirate, LordPotty, Argus, uleko, Jamesp, Robbrown, Kaszek, rousettus, ciccio, takos1, delic has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 1 12-13 05:01
To PaulH: The origin of SpeciesSelenE 1 06-12 06:48
To iris: How closeSelenE 1 06-12 05:32
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2007-06-12 4:39]
  • [+]

Goodness! Selene, How close do you get to them for these shots?Superb image showing the differences in the wings.The details are immaculate and wonderfully clear.Notes add real value to your shots.
Very well done.
TFS & Cheers

Açıklayıcı bilgileri ile güzel bir sunum olmuş ayrıca meraklı gri balıkçıla bayıldım.Ellerine sağlık Selen

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-06-12 6:07]
  • [+]

Hi Selen,

a striking comparison you've shown us here, showing how isolation and lack of certain influences can effect the development of a whole species. I take it you've read The Origin Of Species, having been here??
Both shots are great and compliment each other very well. I too particularly like the Grey Heron :o)
very well done, an interesting post.

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-12 6:22]

Merhaba Selen,
Açıklayacı not la birlikte çok güzel bir çalışma olmuş.Alt fotografın köşesindeki balıkçıl çok hoş duruyor.Tebrikler,ellerine sağlık!

Hola Selen,
Preciosas las imágenes que nos presentas, excelente la comparativa de las alas, muy completa la nota. Saludos
José Ramón

Fantastic - I never knew that there was such a thing like a flightless Cormorant! Good captures and the curious Heron is the icing on the cake! Funny! Thanks! :)

Maybe not the best capture you made but great document with very interisting note.
That is what TN is for

Thats amazing Selen.
I'd never heard of a Flightless Cormorant.
A great buddy for our Kiwi ... oh, and Kakapo.
A very interesting post.
Great captures and notes.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-06-12 9:27]

Hello Selen,
This is a very fine contribution to TN, showing us how degenerated the wings of a Flightless Galapagos Cormorant are compared to those of the Great Cormorant. Both shots are of high quality in my opinion.
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-06-12 13:29]

Hello Selen,
Very interesting to be able to compare the two species in these two very fine captures!
The Flightless one looks rather pathetic while the others look so proud and beautiful drying their wings. Excellent DOF and sharp details and fine colours. I like the compositions too.
TFS and all the best, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-06-12 13:58]

Hi Selen

A great and informative posting. Very good detail etc. I like the 'punk' heron!!!

These were my favourite Galapagos creature - but then I am a bit weird!


  • Great 
  • Kaszek Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 237 W: 50 N: 391] (1451)
  • [2007-06-12 17:09]

Hello Selen,
Superb document and comparizon.
Very interesting post.
Well done!
Thank you for sharing.

Merhaba Selen hanım,
çok güzel bir karşılaştırma. çekim olarak her zamanki gibi mükemmel. "bonus" dediğiniz gri balıkçıl da pek hoş olmuş. fotoğrafçının meraklısı çok olur:) verdiğiniz bilgiler çok güzel. elinize sağlık, selamlar

hi selen,
nice capture, well composed shot, good comparision,
tfs & regards

Ciao Selene,
bell'insieme di uccelli, ottimi i dettagli!


  • Great 
  • delic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 440 W: 6 N: 310] (898)
  • [2007-06-16 16:24]

Hello Selen,
A fine fine study of the two cormorant species in similar action. Both look sharp enough to me even at this size, so no worries there. That little intruder on the corner reminded me of the cartoon character, "the Roadrunner".
Best wishes,

Dear Selen,
An excellent idea to present the famous Flightless Cormorant together with a "normal" bird.

Somehow, one cannot help but feel sorry, when one sees for the first time these "moth-eaten" birds, which is of course stupid, because they are as happy as all the other creatures in the Galapagos!

It is very difficult to take a photo under the circumstances: the grey lava "swallows" the grey bird, and the reflection of the sun on the water makes exposure a hazard.

You produced an interesting, good photo - well done.

Have a nice afternoon,
Kind Regards

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