The diet of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) on Little Galloo Island (LGI) in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario has been quantified since 1992. Over the past nine years considerable information has been generated on cormorant feeding ecology through the examination of approximately 12,000 pellets collected on LGI, where three distinct cormorant feeding periods, pre-chick, chick, and post-chick, are delineated by differences in diet composition and daily fish consumption. Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were the major prety during pre-chick and post-chick feeding periods. Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), which move inshore to spawn in mid-June, dominated (>60%) cormorant diets during the chick feeding period. Mean daily fish consumption (14.6) during the pre-chick feeding period was significantly greater than during the chick feeding (9.3) or post-chick feeding (8.0) periods. The proportion of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) in the diet increased over the season (0.8% to 7.2%), while the size of bass consumed declined (214 mm to 143 mm). Forage fish (mainly alewife, three-spine sticklebacks [Gasterosteus aculeatus] and minnows) comprised 58% of the diet of LGI cormorants, followed by panfish (37%) (yellow perch, pumpkinseed [Lepomis gibbosus], rock bass [Ambloplites rupestris]) and gamefish (5%) (mostly smallmouth bass). On the average LGI cormorants consumed about 32.8 million fish annually, weighing about 1.4 million kilograms. Cormorants from LGI consumed more biomass of smallmouth bass and yellow perch annually than is taken by sport (bass and yellow perch) and commercial (perch) fishermen.
Additional Publication Details
Little Galloo Island, Lake Ontario: A review of nine years of double-crested cormorant diet and fish consumption information