TOP 5 VIEWING SITES
• Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa County
• Mercer Wildlife Area, Mercer County
• Pipe Creek Wildlife Area, Erie County
• Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, Trumbull County
• Ottawa NWR, Ottawa County
Double-crested cormorants last nested in the state in the 1880s and were reduced to migrant status until the 1990s, when they began nesting in the Lake Erie region. Cormorants have rapidly increased in the western basin of Lake Erie as both a breeder and as a migrant. They presently nest on West Sister Island NWR (Lucas County), Turning Point Island (Erie County), and Green Island (Ottawa County) in Lake Erie. There are also nesting colonies in Franklin County as well as Portage Lakes Wildlife Area (Summit County) and Grand Lake St Marys State Park (Mercer County). Due to the negative impacts of cormorants to valuable waterbird nesting habitat, the Division of Wildlife began to control numbers of cormorants on the Lake Erie Islands in 2006. Thus, a general decline in the state breeding population has been observed. West Sister Island, which makes up the largest colony, had its breeding population decline from an estimated 3,813 pairs in 2005 to 2,407 pairs in 2012. The number of breeding pairs on Green Island also declined from 857 pairs in 2005 to 368 pairs in 2012. Breeding pairs on Turning Point Island have increased from 409 pairs in 2005 to 1163 pairs in 2012. The inland colonies consist of about 43 pairs in Franklin County, 70 pairs at Portage Lakes, and 30 pairs at Grand Lakes St Marys. Cormorants can be seen on any large water body in migration and may approach flocks of 10,000 in the western basin of Lake Erie during fall migration.
Survey details and historical data can be found in the Wetland Species Overview section of the Wildlife Population Status and Hunting Forecast.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service webpage on cormorant issues: www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/issues/cormorant/cormorant.html