Enormous cormorant roost comes back on Cape Cod

Roost of hundreds or thousands of Double-crested Cormorants, Phalacrocorax auritus, on Cedar Pond, near Route 6′s Orleans rotary.

One of the most striking wildlife sites on Cape Cod is one locals hate: a spectacular  cormorant roost on electric wires over Cedar Pond near Orleans.

You pass the roost just south of the Orleans rotary on Route 6, Cape Cod’s main highway, and it turns your head. Cormorants are big, loud and chatty. And the roost just keeps on going as you drive.

Wayne Petersen, who manages the important bird areas for Mass Audubon, says that neighbors had tried to get rid of it, but apparently gave up. “You can imagine the chloroform count in that pond,” he says. The problem isn’t the sight or sound, but the smell of the guano.

Back in 1999, residents got a permit to scare the migratory birds off by firing pyrotechnics, the Cape Cod Times says. They were still missing in 2004, according to Bird Watchers General Store, which says the stink from the pond was “so vile that even a black lab wouldn’t roll in it.”

If you think you’re seeing more cormorants now than you did growing up, you’re right. This Cape Cod roost is one of many that have popped up along the coast–with similar results. People wiped out the birds in the 1800s. Fishermen still view them as competition. And some people just find their stooped neck sunning kinda creepy. But Mass Audubon┬ásays the birds, absent as recently as the 1940s, have slowly come back–especially since the 1970s. The roosts, once rare, are not so uncommon. Though this one in Orleans is still pretty stunning.

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