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Great Cormorant - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from White-breasted Cormorant)
Complete breeding plumage and color, subspecies P. c. sinensis
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, January-2017

Alternative Name: Black Cormorant

Includes: Australian Great Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo


80–100 cm (31½-39½ in)

  • overall plumage blackish
  • throat white
  • gape yellow
  • thigh patch white in breeding plumage
  • head and neck variably white in breeding plumage (subspecies dependent)

Juvenile whitish underparts

Similar Species

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).

Subspecies P. c. novoehollandiae
Photo © by Nora
Melton, Melbourne, Australia, May 2007


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 African subspecies to be a separate species "White-breasted Cormorant", P. lucidus (Lepage, 2007) [2].

Subspecies novaehollandiae may be split as "Australian Great Cormorant", P. novaehollandiae as its nupial plumage differs [6]


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

Nominate subspecies, breeding plumage
Photo © by Joe52
Bournemouth, UK, January 2014


Open water and rocky coastline. Breeds on sea cliffs and on inland trees. .


Subspecies P. c. carbo, juvenile
Photo © by Macswede
Skåne, Sweden, April 2013

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


  1. 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/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) Avibase. Retrieved 21 September 2020
  3. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  4. 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
  5. Bird Forum Member Observations
  6. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1