Alternative Name: White-breasted Cormorant , Black Cormorant
- Phalacrocorax carbo
80–100 cm (31½-39½ in)
- Blackish plumage
- White throat
- Yellow gape
- White thigh patch in breeding plumage
Juvenile whitish underparts
Forehead less steep than European Shag. Juvenile/immature Shags both have a white throat. Cormorant always have dark feet and young Shags have paler feet (webs between the toes).
Almost worldwide; absent from Antarctica, South America and much of North America. In North America found north of Nova Scotia in breeding season.
Winters south to Florida along the coast. Also winters in small numbers in Lake Ontario.
Some authorities consider the White-breasted Cormorant of Africa to be a separate species Phalacrocorax lucidus (Lepage, 2007).
There are 6 subspecies:
- P. c. carbo:
- Northern Europe and northern North America; winters to Gulf coast, north-western Africa
- P. c. novaehollandiae:
- Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Chatham Islands
- P. c. sinensis:
- P. c. hanedae:
- Honshu Island (Japan)
- P. c. maroccanus:
- Coastal north-western Africa (Morocco to Mauritania)
- P. c. lucidus:
- Africa south of the Sahara and Cape Verde Islands
Open water and rocky coastline. Breeds on sea cliffs and on inland trees. .
Often seen perched on rocks, bouys and posts with their wings outspread. Swims low in the water with head raised
Their diet consists mostly of fish; crustaceans and amphibians are also eaten.
Flies higher over the water than Shags; flocks forming long lines or V-shapes.
Click images to see larger version
Photo © by Paul Wheeler
Stover, Devon, February-2011
Subspecies P c. sinensis, juvenile
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, Dec-2015
Subspecies lucidus, White-breasted Cormorant
Photo © by bievreJJ
Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cape province, South Africa, 13 October 2009
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Lepage D. (2020) Avibase. Retrieved 21 September 2020
- Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
- Hatch, J. J., K. M. Brown, G. G. Hogan, R. D. Morris, J. Orta, E. F. J. Garcia, F. Jutglar, G. M. Kirwan, and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grecor.01
- Bird Forum Member Observations
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Great Cormorant. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 9 June 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Great_Cormorant
Search the Gallery for Great Cormorant videos:
GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1