You can never tell what an evening’s walk at Cesar Chavez Park will bring. This evening I was rewarded with a rare sight: a cormorant in the North Basin who had got its beak around a rather big fish who was not going quietly. The bird managed to shift its grip several times without losing the fish, and finally managed to get the fish’s head lined up with its gullet. Then it was all over. The bird’s jaws and neck stretched effortlessly and swallowed the fish in one piece, head first. During this battle, the bird submerged its body, leaving only its head and neck above water, looking a bit like a water snake. Once the fish was safely down the hatch, the cormorant surfaced its body and then rose for a vigorous flapping of its wings, as if celebrating a big score.
This YouTube video is a bit rough because it’s not a true video but a collage of snapshots, similar to an animated gif or a very fast slideshow. Nevertheless, it gives a fair impression of the bird’s struggle to take down a fish easily as big as the bird’s own head and neck, and of its victory.
Here’s a sample of still images for a clearer picture of the size of this fish: