We analyzed 2 sets of data for Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) stomach contents (including esophageal contents) that were collected from April through June of 1986-1988 (N = 580) and 1992-1993 (N = 200) on the Penobscot River, Maine. Our objectives were to examine temporal and spatial variation in the spring diet and estimate the importance of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts to the cormorant diet. We analyzed stomach contents relative to samples from 3 river sections: 5 mainstem dams collectively, above the head of tide, and free-flowing areas above and below the head of tide. Between years composition of taxa lists were compared (P = 0.05) relative to time and river section. We estimated taxon importance for data collected during 1992-1993 by ranking taxa according to 3 statistics: frequency of occurrence, mean percent volume, and numerical abundance. Data from 1986-88 were analyzed by frequency of occurrence only. Across the 3 river sections, the number of prey species recovered from cormorant stomachs increased from 15 in late April to at least 31 through May. Cormorants collected above the head of tide consumed 12 fish species (including freshwater, anadromous, and catadromous types), whereas birds collected below the head of tide consumed 28 freshwater and seasonally-available estuarine, marine benthic, and pelagic species. Salmon smolts were not recovered from stomachs collected in April, rare in stomach samples during the first week of June, and absent from the diet thereafter. In contrast, smolts were among the 5 most frequently occurring (1986-88) and highest ranking (1992-1993) prey taxa across the 3 river sections through May.
Additional publication details
Spring prey use by double-crested cormorants on the Penobscot River, Maine, USA