The animal on the cover of Java Web Services: Up and Running is a great cormorant
(Phalacrocorax carbo). This bird is a common member of the Phalacrocoracidae family,
which consists of about 40 species of cormorants and shags—large seabirds with
hooked bills, colored throats, and stiff tail feathers. The name “cormorant” is derived
from the Latin corvus marinus, or sea raven, because of its black plumage.
An adult cormorant is about 30 inches long and has a wingspan of 60 inches. It has a
long neck, a yellow throat, and a white chin patch. The cormorant has a distinctive way
of spreading its wings as it perches, which many naturalists believe is a way of drying
its feathers, although this explanation is disputed. The cormorant lives mainly near
Atlantic waters, on western European and eastern North American coasts, and particularly
on the Canadian maritime provinces. It breeds on cliffs or in trees, building nests
out of twigs and seaweed.
The cormorant is an excellent fisher, able to dive to great depths. In China and Japan,
among other places, fishermen have trained this bird using a centuries-old method, in
which they tie cords around the throats of the birds—to prevent them from
swallowing—and send them out from boats. The cormorants then catch fish in their
mouths, return to the boats, and the fishermen retrieve their catch. Alhough once a
successful industry, today cormorant fishing is primarily used for tourism.