Cormorant. Both the prophets Isaiah and Zephaniah linked the cormorant or “the pelican” (NKJV) with the bittern to describe the ruin God brings in judgment upon man’s proud cities (Is. 34:11; Zeph. 2:14). The cormorant (or “the fisher owl,” NKJV) was listed among the few birds the Israelites were not to eat (Lev. 11:17; Deut. 14:17).
Cormorants are large fish-eating birds, related to pelicans, with hooked beaks and webbed feet. They dive into the water to catch fish; they swim well; and they can stay under water for a long time.
The cormorant found in Israel has a black head, yellow-circled eyes, and green highlights in its black plumage. As the prophets suggested (Is. 34:11; Zeph. 2:14), the cormorant would be an unsettling sight in the swampy pools of a ruined city.