When one thinks of godlike birds, the eagle jumps to mind or the peacock. Perhaps the peaceful dove. But the cormorant?

I personally had never given much thought to the cormorant.

During drives and runs up to East Chop lighthouse, the ospreys always arrested my attention with their powerful strides across the sky, talons clutched with sea sacrifices as they made their way homeward to magnificent nests. The cormorants, perched in their oily sleek blackness on the furthest reaches of the private docks, blended into the background.

Sitting at Inkwell and gazing out to sea, it was the terns that captivated the eye, as they plummeted in tight spirals towards the water like feathered dive bombers in pursuit of their sustenance. The cormorants, again in the background, shuttled along at odd intervals like black bottles propelled by anxious wings.

And then, while conducting research and reading along the water’s edge in Greece, I came across a fragment from Homer that brought the cormorants flying around me straight to the fore.

The poet describes the dispatch of Hermes to the island of Calypso. Graced by his immortal and golden sandals, the messenger god was borne “over the waters of the sea and over the boundless land swift as the blasts of the wind. . . he stepped from the upper air, and swooped down upon the sea, and then sped over the waves like a bird, the cormorant, which in quest of fish over the frightening gulfs of the unresting sea wets its thick plumage in the salt water. In such fashion did Hermes convey himself over the multitudinous waves.”

From that moment on, I have come to appreciate the cormorant in a whole new light. I now see cormorant as a figure of awkward majesty as he perches with wings akimbo and preens on the pilings of East Chop or Menemsha harbor.

I appreciate the graceful circles and bobs of the cormorant water ballet in the same harbor, punctuated by hungry yellow beaks and the occasional gulping of slippery, silvery fare.

I marvel at huge colonies of the ebony sentinels along either side of State Beach, and as I see one of the flock embark upon his flight, I now wonder what message this divine creature of Hermes will bear across the waves today.

David Ulrich lives in Oak Bluffs and Dedham.