Diets were examined and analyzed for 418 wintering Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) collected from January to mid-April 2001 and October to December 2001 at an oxbow lake in southeast Arkansas. The fish community was also sampled to examine prey availability. Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) and Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis) were the most important species in cormorant diet. Other, less important, cormorant prey species included Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), cyprinids (minnows), and sunfishes (Lepomis spp.). Diet varied by season and sex. Cormorants consumed higher proportions of cyprinids and Channel Catfish in the autumn than the remainder of the over-wintering period. In general, females consumed Gizzard Shad more than males, while males consumed Channel Catfish more than females. Neither genders consumed notable amounts of sport fish. Prey size did not differ between the sexes, but did vary by season. These data demonstrate the relative importance of forage and rough fish and the lesser relative importance of sport fish in the diet of cormorants over-wintering on an oxbow lake in southeast Arkansas.
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Vol. 27 • No. 2