Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Class Aves (Birds)
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants)
Species Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnaeus, 1758)

Length 80-100 cm.
Wingspan 1.3-1.6m.
Lifespan 15-20 years.

The Cormorant is a big dark bird with a long neck and bold bright facial colours of white and yellow near its bill. It has a distinctive stance and is often seen standing on posts, trees or rocks with its wings open drying them out. Juveniles are browner and have a white underside. It is similar to the Shag, but the Cormorant is diagnosed by the yellow patch beneath its bill which extends around the eye.

It catches fish by diving deep beneath the water’s surface. It breeds on cliffs, reservoirs, inland lakes, and even small pools.  The nest is made of sticks built in a tree or a cliff ledge. It lay 3-4 eggs in 1 brood from April to May.

Seen all year round, it may be observed along the whole of the British coastline, and also increasingly appearing on inland lakes and reservoirs. Common and widespread throughout Britain.

Torquay Harbour and Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. August 2015. © Peter Hillman