Nesting Magellanic Cormorants & Chicks~


Magellanic Cormorants are sea birds living in the frigid waters of the southern ocean and are found from southern Chile down through the Beagle Channel to Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia Argentina.

I was thrilled to find a colony of nesting birds and settled in for some telephoto shooting.

I don’t believe in disturbing nesting birds, and always watch them from a non-intrusive distance.

And then this happened! These curious humans arrived by boat, got way too close, took photos with their cell phones, and panicked the birds.

All the parents understandably flew off in terror as soon as the humans got so close, exposing incubating eggs and unfledged chicks to the elements.

You can see one very brave parent remained, until even this last hold-out, got frightened by the persistent humans and flew away.

The fledglings scrambled together terrified,

as I watched all this, completely appalled.

I am however, very pleased to report a happy ending to this sad tale. The humans eventually left, the frightened parents cautiously returned, and the colony resumed peaceful functioning. You can see the mother’s settling back on their nests. The chicks were very lucky that hungry giant petrels, skuas or gulls didn’t find them in such a vulnerable state.

So thankfully, it’s cheers to you, from the very frightened birdies (and photographer)~

249 thoughts on “Nesting Magellanic Cormorants & Chicks~

    • Yes, it is so important to respect all wildlife’s need for safe viewing distances. This keeps both humans and wildlife safe. You can observe an animal by approaching them very, very slowly, and stop as soon as they show the slightest bit of concern.

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  1. Glad the moms and dads returned to take care of their chicks. I suspect it made you want to yell at the intruders and/or the boat owner/guide that took them so close. I had an amusing bird encounter this morning, Cindy. I saw a rosy finch fluttering around our door windows. When I walked over it landed on the container I keep sunflower seeds in, and then flew over to the empty bird feeder! Do you think it was all happenstance? 🙂 Anyway, I went out and refilled the feeder. –Curt

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    • Yes. Birds are such incredibly high intensity, incredibly devoted parents, it would have been horrible to see it go the other way. At The Holler, the hummers, and other birds will hatch clutch after clutch of young, raise them in this exceedingly frenetic totally devoted way bird parents do. They do this because I supply them with food and birds will nest over and over if there is a steady supply of food. I wonder if I am exhausting them.

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  2. I hate cormorants with a passion, as they are an invasive species in the Great Lakes, but I admire your photos. Did you happen to get any of ducks? Argentina has an amazing variety and I wondered what kinds live in Patagonia.

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  3. Homo sapiens are really so un-wise and stupid… In a blog I wrote called ‘Earth’s greatest treasure’, I used John Aspinall,s wonderful creed about the sanctity of all life, and the damaging belief in the sanctity of human life – he called the wilderness ‘earth’s greatest treasure,’
    He was not wrong, and it was so sad to see the wilderness so graphically conveyed in your wonderful photos, invaded by the most destructive species on the planet…
    And thank you for all the years of showing us the wonders of the wilderness through your camera and eyes…

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    • I agree so wholeheartedly ❤ with everything you say here. Thank you! And thank you for appreciating our fragile and incredibly beautiful world and all her glorious creatures! I will check out John Aspinall. Thanks for the tip. 🐦🐦

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    • Birds are more polite than humans! Although I have seen people throw rocks at seagulls and the gulls launched a coordinated attack doing exactly what you describe, just pelting the people with flying revenge. It was great! 🐦🐦

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    • This was a strange nesting place in that many cormorant species nest on steep cliffs. But they do also like to nest on things that are surrounded by water which serves a moat like function, as was the case with these birds

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      • I recall when we stayed in Cape Town and hiked out to the peninsula that is at the southern tip. I watched the sea birds (might have been cormorants) flying into nests along the cliffs below us. I felt as if I were going to go swirling off the edge of the viewing area with the winds that they floated on.

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  4. Such beautiful photos, Cindy. Why/How do people have to be so indifferent and insensitive? It’s very frustrating. It’s like thought and caring have just gone out the window. I’m glad it worked out for the birds. ❤

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  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    It is Valentine’s Day and we are not the only creatures on the planet whose thoughts turn to romance in the spring. Cindy Knoke has taken some amazing photographs of Magellanic Cormorants in Chile on her trip there. She used a telephoto lens.. however witnessed eejits in a boat with cellphone cameras frightening the birds off their nests. It could have resulted in predators getting the young chicks and eggs. However, thankfully after the twits left the parent birds returned.. I know which species exhibits more common sense… thanks Cindy spectacular as always.

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