Great Cormorant Bird Facts: Profile, Description, Traits, Wings

great cormorant

What are some of the interesting facts about the great cormorant bird? The Great Cormorant, scientifically classified as Phalacrocorax carbo, graces the skies with its majestic presence, spreading its wings across vast territories. This avian marvel finds its habitat predominantly in Australia within the Northern Hemisphere, while in the Indian subcontinent, it proudly assumes the moniker of the Great Cormorant. Journeying further south to the captivating landscapes of New Zealand, this captivating bird earns the epithet “Black Shag.” It emerges as a prominent member of the Cormorant family, a regal representation of seabird splendor. This article will discuss interesting facts about the great cormorant, profile, history, lifespan, habitat, breeding, plumage, range, diet, mating, wings, eggs, migration, adaptation, fledgling, call, and more. Keep reading.

Australia’s Northern Hemisphere: The Great Cormorant’s Resplendent Abode

In the sun-kissed realms of Australia, the Great Cormorant unfurls its wings in the Northern Hemisphere, adorning the skies with its resplendent plumage. Against the backdrop of diverse ecosystems, from coastal waters to inland lakes, this avian beauty showcases its adaptability and mastery of various aquatic environments. With its elongated neck and sleek black feathers, the Great Cormorant becomes an emblem of grace, navigating the aerial expanse with unparalleled elegance.

The Indian Subcontinent’s Aerial Sovereign: Great Cormorant

Venturing into the captivating landscapes of the Indian subcontinent, the Great Cormorant reigns as the aerial sovereign. Against the backdrop of rich cultural tapestries, this avian creature becomes a symbol of natural abundance and the delicate balance between wildlife and human civilization. With its distinctive silhouette against the vibrant hues of the Indian skies, the Great Cormorant narrates a tale of coexistence, weaving its way through the intricate web of ecosystems that define the region.

New Zealand’s Maritime Majesty: The Black Shag’s Enchanting Presence

Across the enchanting islands of New Zealand, the Great Cormorant transforms into the Black Shag, a testament to its adaptability in diverse geographies. Nestled amidst the pristine waters and lush landscapes, the Black Shag becomes a maritime maestro, embodying the poetry of flight against the backdrop of New Zealand’s scenic wonders. With each beat of its wings, the Black Shag adds a chapter to the narrative of New Zealand’s avian allure, captivating the onlooker with its distinctive charm.

Cormorant Chronicles: A Seabird Family’s Stately Representative

Beyond geographical boundaries, the Great Cormorant stands as a stately representative of the Cormorant family—a lineage of seabirds that grace the world’s oceans and coastal regions. With its regal stature and distinctive features, this avian entity enriches the ornithological tapestry, contributing to the diverse array of life that thrives in aquatic environments. The Cormorant family, through the magnificent presence of the Great Cormorant, etches its mark on the canvas of avian grandeur, a testament to the mesmerizing beauty of seabirds.

Diverse Dimensions of the Great Cormorant

The great cormorant, a magnificent avian creature, exhibits a striking diversity in size across its various species, making it a fascinating subject for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts alike. Ranging from the diminutive weight of 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) to the substantial 5.3 kg (12 lbs), these birds showcase a broad spectrum of physical proportions that captivates observers.

Sexual Disparities in Size

An intriguing aspect of the great cormorant’s biology lies in the noticeable disparities between males and females. Typically, males overshadow their female counterparts in both size and weight. The magnitude of this difference becomes apparent when comparing the lightest average weight of males, which is approximately 10% larger than the smallest European race. This distinction is particularly prominent in Germany, where the average weight of 36 males measures an impressive 2.22 kg (1.8 lbs), while 5 females exhibit an average weight of 8.2 kg (1.8 lbs).

Geographic Variances in Weight

The weight of these majestic birds further showcases geographical disparities, adding another layer of complexity to their characteristics. A noteworthy example comes from the expansive landscapes of Prince Edward Island in Canada, where the subspecies (P. Carbo) displays a remarkable divergence. In this region, 5 males boast an impressive average weight of 6.68 kg (0.7 lb), while their female counterparts exhibit a comparatively lighter average of 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), painting a vivid portrait of the nuanced physical variations across different habitats.

Dynamic Dimensions: Length and Wingspan

Beyond their weight, the great cormorant also reveals a wide range of dimensions in terms of length and wingspan, contributing to their overall majestic presence. The length of these birds fluctuates between 70 to 102 cm (28 to 40 inches), showcasing a considerable span in their physical size. Meanwhile, their wings stretch impressively from 121 to 160 cm (48 to 63 inches), adding to the grandeur of their airborne capabilities.

Cormorants on the Global Scale

Ranked as the second-largest species of cormorant, these birds share this distinction with the non-flying cormorant, establishing their significance in avian taxonomy. Notably, their size aligns with that of the Japanese cormorant, solidifying their position as a substantial and awe-inspiring species within the diverse family of cormorants. This insight into their dimensions provides a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of the great cormorant’s biology, inviting further exploration into the intricacies of this remarkable avian species.

Blue-Eyed Sag Species in the Southern Ocean

In the expansive realms of the Southern Ocean, the complexes of blue-eyed sag species, more often than not, exhibit a notable lack of diminutiveness. The norm, it seems, leans towards a manifestation of grandeur rather than the unassuming smallness one might expect. Picture this marine spectacle: a conclave of these creatures, with their striking blue eyes, creating a captivating mosaic of marine life. The average size of these complexes, if we are to abandon the confines of linearity, presents an imposing demeanor. Adding to their allure is a distinctive long tail, a visual testament to the unique character of these species, complemented by a conspicuous yellow neck-patch that captures the attention of keen observers.

Breeding Elegance: White Patches and Distinctions

During the breeding season, the adults of these magnificent beings undergo a transformative adornment. White patches emerge, strategically placed on their thighs and throats, enhancing their already regal presence. It is in European waters that their individuality truly shines, setting them apart from the ordinary shag. Size becomes a defining feature, with a considerable increase marking their distinction. A hefty build, a bill of substantial thickness, the absence of a crest, and a notable dearth of greenish pores collectively contribute to their uniqueness. The absence of these features becomes a hallmark, an unmistakable signature of the blue-eyed sag species in this aquatic realm.

Transatlantic Contrasts: Dimensions and Color Palette

In the eastern expanse of North America, a compelling dichotomy unfolds when comparing the blue-eyed sag species to its crested cormorant counterpart. The dimensions of the former double that of the latter, creating a stark contrast in size. The neck and throat of the larger species take on a mesmerizing yellowish hue, adding a vibrant stroke to their overall appearance. Noteworthy, too, is the absence of white thigh patches, a common feature among many cormorants. This peculiarity further solidifies the distinct identity of the blue-eyed sag species, turning them into a spectacle of avian grandeur against the backdrop of North American waters.

The Symphony of Silence: Great Assistants in Breeding Colonies

Great assistants, despite their grandeur, are often heralds of silence, a serene presence amidst the vibrant chaos of the breeding colonies they inhabit. However, this silence is not absolute; instead, it takes the form of different guttural sounds that resonate within their breeding grounds. These auditory nuances, subtle and intricate, form a symphony of their own, a unique expression of communication and cohabitation in the intricate tapestry of their communal existence. It is in these moments of quiet yet resonant communication that the true essence of the great assistants comes to life, adding another layer of mystique to these majestic beings of the Southern Ocean.

Rare Variations and Challenges of the Albino Great Cormorant

Albinism, an exceptionally rare occurrence among great cormorants (Falcocorax carbo), manifests in unique variations of this majestic bird. The albino variant, characterized by a lack of pigmentation, faces significant challenges, particularly in the domains of eyesight and hearing. These impairments render the albino cormorant ill-equipped to navigate the perils of the wild, contributing to its infrequent survival in natural habitats.

The Extensive Habitat and Feeding Habits of the Great Cormorant

The great cormorant stands as a ubiquitous and versatile avian species, establishing its presence across diverse ecosystems. Its feeding habits are equally versatile, encompassing forays into the sea, river mouths, and freshwater lakes. These birds, known for their adaptability, exhibit a migratory pattern, with northern populations embarking on journeys southward to winter along coasts rich in fish. This migratory behavior underscores the great cormorant’s resilience and ability to thrive in various environments.

Cormorants in Serbia: Adaptation to Artificial Lakes

In the Serbian region of Vojvodina, the great cormorant has found a niche in its habitat, adapting to the changing landscape post-1945. The creation of artificial lakes, a consequence of human intervention, has inadvertently provided potential accommodations for these avian residents. The interaction between cormorants and these human-altered environments showcases the adaptability of this species to unforeseen ecological shifts.

The Unique Population Dynamics of Lake Elysée

Lake Elysée, a reservoir formed in the 5th century, stands witness to the resilience and adaptability of great cormorant populations. Resident colonies have taken root in this locale, exhibiting a year-round presence with notable exceptions. During the harsh winter months of January-February 1985 and February 2012, the surface of Lake Elysée froze entirely, challenging the cormorants’ ability to navigate and survive in the face of adverse environmental conditions.

Global Distribution: From Atlantic Waters to North America

The familial presence of great cormorants extends across vast expanses, encompassing Atlantic waters and adjacent inland regions. From the West European coast to the shores of South Africa, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, these birds carve out habitats in diverse geographical settings. Interestingly, on the eastern seaboard of North America, their range extends north of Canada’s maritime provinces, defying expectations and challenging assumptions about their distribution in the United States.

Great Cormorant Feeding Behavior

The Great Cormorant, known for its distinctive diving prowess, predominantly sustains itself on a diet of fish acquired through its skillful underwater forays. Despite being primarily herbivorous, this avian species also displays an intriguing inclination towards the olfactory allure of sand, flatheads, and common floors, adding a nuanced complexity to its feeding habits.

Weight Dynamics in Great Cormorant’s Prey

The weight dynamics of the fish caught by the Great Cormorant reveal a fascinating correlation with both air and water temperatures. During the summer, the average weight loss of the captured fish stands at a modest 30 grams. However, as winter intensifies, this weight loss surges to 109 grams in a relatively warmer winter and peaks at a substantial 157 grams during the colder months, a pattern particularly notable in non-breeding birds.

Winter Efficiency and Fish Selection

In the winter months, the Great Cormorant exhibits a strategic approach to its prey. Opting for torpedo-shaped fish, the bird capitalizes on the environmental conditions, leading to a notable surge in efficiency. Researchers have attributed the heightened efficacy during winter to the bird’s ability to selectively target specific fish types, resulting in an increased overall capture rate.

Impact on Freshwater Ecosystems

In certain freshwater systems, the repercussions of the Great Cormorant’s feeding habits are striking. Estimates suggest that fish losses in these ecosystems can reach up to 5 kg per hectare per year. This phenomenon is particularly evident in locales such as the Vltava River in the Czech Republic, underscoring the ecological implications of the bird’s overwintering practices on larger corporate fish populations.

Diving Mechanics and Depth Exploration

The Great Cormorant employs a remarkable diving technique, submerging its prey before deftly capturing it in its beak. Impressively, the dive duration averages around 20 seconds, with the bird plunging to depths of approximately 5.8 meters (19 feet). This underwater ballet not only highlights the bird’s dexterity but also underscores its adaptability in navigating different aquatic zones.

Habitat Utilization in Great Cormorant Dives

Analyzing the distribution of the Great Cormorant’s dives provides insights into its habitat utilization. Around 60% of the bird’s dives occur in the benthic zone, emphasizing its affinity for the aquatic floor. Intriguingly, another 10% of dives venture into the pelagic zone, showcasing the bird’s versatility as it explores both submerged realms. The remaining dives exhibit a balanced distribution, further emphasizing the diverse ecological niches this species occupies.

Great Cormorant Chick

In the intricate tapestry of avian life, the Great Cormorant’s journey begins with the vulnerable innocence of its chicks. Nestled in nests precariously perched atop cliff edges or nestled in reed beds, these fledglings are a testament to the delicate balance of life. Covered in downy feathers, their small frames echo the promise of future grace.

As the parents tirelessly guard their offspring, the chicks embark on a slow metamorphosis. Their sleek black plumage gradually replaces the fluffy down, hinting at the regal presence they will one day embody. The process, akin to a masterful stroke on nature’s canvas, is a ballet of growth and adaptation.

Great cormorant, profile, lifespan, habitat, breeding, plumage, range, diet, mating, wings, eggs, migration, adaptation, fledgling, call


The stage of fledging marks the dawn of independence for the young cormorants. Awkward and yet endearing, their initial attempts at flight resemble a dance with the elements. The air becomes their canvas, and the learning curve is steep. It’s in these moments that the vulnerability of youth collides with the innate resilience of nature, creating a spectacle that resonates with the eons of evolution.

The fledglings, with wings still acquiring the strength to conquer the skies, undertake tentative explorations of their surroundings. The open water becomes both a playground and a classroom, a vast expanse where survival skills are honed with each splash and dive. The intricate choreography of nature continues, and the fledgling cormorants navigate this symphony with instinctual grace.

Size of the Great Cormorant

The Great Cormorant, scientifically known as Phalacrocorax carbo, is an imposing bird renowned for its substantial size. Measuring approximately 35 to 40 inches in length and possessing a wingspan that can extend up to an impressive 55 to 60 inches, this avian species commands attention with its robust physique. The distinctiveness of its size places the Great Cormorant among the larger representatives of the Cormorant family, emphasizing its imposing presence in the avian realm.

Flight Characteristics of the Great Cormorant

When it comes to the flight of the Great Cormorant, the bird’s aerial prowess is nothing short of remarkable. With powerful wingbeats, it gracefully soars through the air, showcasing a combination of precision and elegance. The wings, which span wide, are essential for the bird’s efficient and sustained flight. Additionally, the Great Cormorant is known for its ability to cover vast distances during migration, utilizing its remarkable flight capabilities to traverse diverse landscapes, from coastal regions to inland waters, leaving an indelible mark on the skies.

Migration: A Symphony of Aerial Navigation

The Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo, stands as a testament to the grandeur of avian migration. This remarkable species, found across the globe, engages in awe-inspiring journeys, covering vast distances with unparalleled precision. Their migratory routes, a tapestry woven across continents, are a symphony of aerial navigation that leaves observers spellbound.

During migration, these majestic birds embark on epic voyages, navigating the skies with remarkable skill. Their journeys are not mere flights; they are orchestrated movements, choreographed by nature’s invisible hand. The cormorants traverse diverse landscapes, crossing oceans, mountain ranges, and expansive plains. Each beat of their wings resonates with a rhythmic determination, showcasing a profound instinct for survival and adaptation.

Colors: An Artist’s Palette in Feathers

Draped in a plumage that captivates the eye, the Great Cormorant is a living canvas painted with nature’s finesse. The colors adorning these avian wonders are not merely pigments but a visual symphony that unfolds in shades of ebony, emerald, and obsidian. The plumage’s iridescence changes with the angle of sunlight, creating a spectacle of hues that evokes a sense of wonder.

From a distance, the Great Cormorant appears as a silhouette against the sky, its wings outstretched like a canvas for the setting sun to paint. As the sunlight refracts through the feathers, it reveals a kaleidoscope of colors – a mesmerizing blend that accentuates the bird’s regal presence. It is a testament to the intricate artistry that nature weaves into the very fabric of its creations.

Traits: Nature’s Architect of Adaptability

The Great Cormorant, beyond its migratory prowess and resplendent plumage, is a paragon of adaptability. Its traits mirror a blueprint crafted by evolution over millennia. These birds showcase a remarkable ability to thrive in diverse ecosystems, from coastal regions to inland lakes, displaying an uncanny versatility in their dietary preferences and hunting techniques.

Aptly described as nature’s architects, Great Cormorants exhibit an ingenious approach to their surroundings. Their streamlined bodies and webbed feet make them adept underwater hunters, effortlessly gliding through aquatic realms. This adaptability, an evolutionary masterpiece, positions them as resilient inhabitants of the natural world, capable of weathering the ever-changing landscapes they traverse.

Mating: A Ballet of Courtship

In the realm of avian courtship, the Great Cormorant unfolds a ballet of intricate movements and vocal harmonies. Mating season transforms their environment into a theater of displays, where courtship rituals take center stage. These rituals are not mere biological imperatives; they are a celebration of life and continuity.

Male cormorants, adorned with heightened colors and elaborate displays, engage in mesmerizing courtship dances to capture the attention of potential mates. The air is filled with their guttural calls and the synchronized choreography of their movements, creating an ambiance of romantic intensity. Mating becomes a symphony of nature’s expressions, where the Great Cormorant continues to enchant with its grace and the timeless allure of its existence.

Plumage Display of the Great Cormorant

The plumage of the Great Cormorant is a tapestry of intriguing features that captivates the observer’s gaze. The predominantly black coloration of its feathers imparts a sleek and sophisticated appearance, accentuated by a subtle iridescence that adds depth and allure. During breeding seasons, the plumage undergoes a transformative shift, with certain areas adopting a glossy sheen, creating a stunning contrast against the bird’s overall dark demeanor. The intricacies of its plumage make the Great Cormorant a fascinating subject for avian enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike, as they seek to unravel the secrets hidden within its feathery cloak.

Remarkable Adaptations of the Great Cormorant

Adaptation is a cornerstone of the Great Cormorant’s survival strategy, allowing it to thrive in diverse aquatic environments. A striking adaptation is the bird’s specialized beak, characterized by a hooked tip that facilitates efficient grasping and manipulation of its prey. Furthermore, the Great Cormorant’s webbed feet play a crucial role in its aquatic lifestyle, aiding in streamlined navigation through water.

Its keen eyesight is another adaptation that enhances its prowess as a skilled hunter, enabling it to spot elusive fish beneath the water’s surface. These adaptations collectively underscore the bird’s evolutionary journey, positioning it as a master of adaptation in the intricate tapestry of the avian world.


As adolescence unfolds, the Great Cormorant metamorphoses into its juvenile form, a bridge between the awkwardness of youth and the elegance of maturity. The plumage, once a uniform black, now reveals subtle variations of iridescence, a preview of the resplendent palette that awaits them in adulthood. Their bodies, elongating and gaining strength, carry the promise of a majestic future.

The juveniles venture further afield, testing their skills in the complex ballet of communal living. Group dynamics unfold in intricate patterns as they navigate the waters, mirroring the sophisticated social structures that define their species. It’s a period of both exploration and consolidation, where the exuberance of youth converges with the wisdom passed down through generations.

Foraging Behavior

In the ceaseless rhythm of survival, foraging behavior becomes the Great Cormorant’s artistry. With wings outstretched like ebony silhouettes against the sky, these birds become masters of the water’s edge. Their sinuous necks and dagger-like bills pierce the surface, retrieving treasures hidden beneath the waves. Each dive is a calculated dance, a testament to the precision honed over a lifetime.

The foraging process is a study of patience and precision, a blend of primal instinct and learned skill. Whether perched on rocky outcrops or gliding gracefully over open water, the cormorant’s foraging behavior is a manifestation of the delicate equilibrium between predator and prey. As the cycles of nature perpetuate, the Great Cormorant’s foraging prowess remains a timeless expression of survival in the ever-changing tapestry of life.

Lifespan: A Tale of Longevity

The Great Cormorant, an awe-inspiring avian species, boasts a lifespan that extends beyond a decade, revealing a remarkable endurance in the avian realm. The oldest documented Great Cormorant astounded researchers by living beyond 21 years, a testament to the species’ resilience and adaptability to its environment. This avian marvel, with its sleek black plumage and distinctive features, exemplifies the tenacity of nature’s creations.

Range: A Global Wanderer

The Great Cormorant’s expansive range spans diverse landscapes, painting a vivid picture of its global wanderings. From the frigid waters of the Arctic to the temperate zones and even tropical regions, these birds gracefully navigate a variety of ecosystems. Their adaptability echoes in their ability to thrive in coastal waters, inland lakes, and rivers, showcasing a versatility that sets them apart in the avian kingdom. Truly, the Great Cormorant stands as a testament to nature’s geographical tapestry.

Call: Nature’s Melodious Symphony

In the avian symphony, the Great Cormorant contributes its distinctive call, a melodious note that reverberates through its habitat. These calls serve as both communication and expression, revealing the intricate social dynamics within the cormorant community. Whether a resonant croak or a soft coo, each utterance holds significance, conveying messages of mating rituals, territory boundaries, or imminent threats. The Great Cormorant’s vocal prowess adds a layer of complexity to its already captivating presence.

Communication: The Language of Plumage and Pose

Beyond vocalizations, the Great Cormorant communicates through a visual language, employing its plumage and distinctive poses as tools of expression. The sleek black feathers, perfectly adapted for diving, reflect sunlight in fascinating ways, creating an aesthetic dance of light and shadow. Intricate postures during courtship rituals or displays of dominance convey messages that transcend the audible, showcasing the depth of communication within this avian species. In the realm of the Great Cormorant, language extends far beyond mere words.

Great Cormorant: Majestic Wingspan and Feathers

The Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo, is a captivating avian species known for its majestic wingspan and distinctive black plumage. These birds boast an impressive wingspan that can extend up to 1.8 meters, enabling them to soar through the skies with unmatched grace. Their wings are not only a means of flight but also play a crucial role in their distinct hunting style. With a sharp and angular silhouette against the sky, the cormorant’s wings become a symbol of both power and elegance. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing

Intricate Journey: The Hatching Process

The journey of a Great Cormorant begins with the intricacies of hatching, an awe-inspiring process that unfolds in the heart of nature’s sanctuaries. The female cormorant diligently tends to her eggs, delicately incubating them with warmth and care. The hatching moment itself is a spectacle of life, as the tiny beaks break through the protective shells, ushering in a new generation of these remarkable birds. This period of vulnerability transitions swiftly into a robust stage of growth, marked by the insatiable curiosity of the young cormorants exploring their surroundings.

Nature’s Chessboard: Predators and Survival Tactics

In the complex ecosystem where the Great Cormorant thrives, predators become strategic players in the grand game of survival. These birds face challenges from both the skies and the waters below. Aerial predators, such as eagles and hawks, pose a constant threat to the cormorant’s well-being. In the aquatic realm, lurking beneath the surface, predators like large fish and reptiles add a layer of danger. The Great Cormorant, however, is not defenseless; their keen eyesight and swift maneuvers in flight and underwater make them formidable adversaries in this perpetual struggle for survival. Bird accessories on Amazon

Balancing Act: Conservation Challenges

Conserving the Great Cormorant population requires a delicate balancing act, as human activities intersect with the habitats these birds call home. Anthropogenic pressures, such as habitat destruction and pollution, pose a significant threat to their well-being. Striking a harmonious balance between the needs of local communities and the preservation of the cormorant’s habitats is an ongoing challenge.

Conservation efforts aim not only to protect the Great Cormorant directly but also to sustain the delicate ecosystems they inhabit. Through awareness, education, and responsible environmental practices, humans can contribute to the ongoing saga of ensuring the survival of these captivating avian beings.

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