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CORMORANT kôr’ mə rənt (שָׁלָכְ, H8960; cormorant, all Eng. VSS. Elsewhere tr. pelican KJV. קָאַת, H7684, is tr. cormorant in Isaiah 34:11, pelican ASV; hawk RSV; and Zephaniah 2:14 pelican ASV; vulture RSVmg. uncertain). This is one of several birds about which little can be said. The tr. cormorant is most improbable, since the setting is a scene of desolation. Driver suggests owl, perhaps Scops owl. There is divided opinion about shalak, from a root meaning “to dart on its prey.” Some ancient VSS describe it as drawing up fish from the sea; this would certainly allow the tr. cormorant, of which two species visit Pal. regularly. By reason of size, quality and availability this is much more likely to be included in a food list than the fishing owl that Driver suggests. One or other species of cormorant is found almost all over the world, and they feed entirely on fish; they nest colonially in most unsanitary conditions.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A large sea-fowl belonging to the genus Phalacrocorax and well described by the Hebrew word used to designate it--which means a "plunging bird." The bird appears as large as a goose when in full feather, but plucked, the body is much smaller. The adult birds are glossy black with bronze tints, touched with white on the cheeks and sides as a festal dress at mating season, and adorned with filamentary feathers on the head, and bright yellow gape. These birds if taken young and carefully trained can be sent into the water from boats and bring to their masters large quantities of good-sized fish: commonly so used in China. The flesh is dark, tough and quite unfit to eat in the elders on account of their diet of fish. The nest is built mostly of seaweed. The eggs are small for the size of the birds, having a rough, thick, but rather soft shell of a bluish white which soon becomes soiled, as well as the nest and its immediate surroundings, from the habits of the birds. The young are leathery black, then covered with soft down of brownish black above and white beneath and taking on the full black of the grown bird at about three years. If taken in the squab state the young are said to be delicious food, resembling baked hare in flavor. The old birds are mentioned among the abominations for food (Le 11:13-19; De 14:12-18).

Gene Stratton-Porter

See also

  • Birds