A Place of Many Birds on the Central Oregon Coast
(Florence, Oregon) – Just north of Florence, where the rocky cliffs and stone overlooks soar above the sea to the tune of jaw-dropping scenic vistas, there are a lot of life forms hanging out there. Not just on the scenic pull-outs, where visitors abound and snap an endless barrage of photographs and make as many poses. Below these cliffs and parking spaces there are rocky places where the land juts out briefly into the sea, creating basalt platforms that are little refuges for an abundance of sea lions, seals and all kinds of birds.
It's May 2010, and the cliffs below this spot between Florence and Yachats is smothered with creatures big and small. Oregon Coast Beach Connection snapped a few pictures of the critters below. These rocky spaces are perhaps 500 feet below the semi-circles where the humans gather, so it took a pretty powerful zoom lens.
Among them were a huge amount of sea lions – no surprise since Sea Lion Caves is a short drive from here. There were also hundreds of black birds, with a few seagulls mixed in.
Oregon Coast Beach Connection asked Newport naturalist and bird expert Range Bayer about them and he said they were Brandt's Cormorants.
“Some of them towards the right of the photo are showing the blue throat that is especially visible when they raise their bills in courtship in the early nesting season, which would be May,” Bayer said. “The nests are also look to be seaweed and vegetation woven cups.”
From above, you can’t see much of the details, so a zoom lens or binoculars comes in handy to get up close – at least in the virtual sense.
Bayer added some other things he expected one would see nearby.
“I would also expect Pelagic Cormorants nesting in that area, though not shown in your photo,” Bayer said. “They usually nest further down rocks on cliff edges and show prominent white flank patches during the breeding season. They are smaller, with thinner bills, heads, and necks than Brandt's or Double-crested Cormorants; they have red faces.”Brandt's Cormorants regularly inhabit rocky shorelines and open ocean as seen here. They live on a wide variety of fish, as well as shrimp and crab.
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