Like a rung dinner bell, thousands of Double-Crested Cormorants descend upon net pens containing young salmon in Astoria, Oregon.
The birds have learned that each spring hatchery workers release millions of endangered salmon into the Youngs and Columbia Rivers. They begin showing up even before the pens have been released in anticipation of the feast. The dynamic has led to an unusual spectacle and a source of frustration for hatchery workers and commercial fisheries alike. During winter, juvenile coho and chinook salmon are trucked down from hatcheries to wait out their release in net pens. Once the pens are released, the smolts run the gauntlet of hungry birds, mostly