SULIFORMES of North America

Cormorants, Anhingas, Boobies / Gannets, and Frigatebirds are rather closely related. It has been suggested that they be assigned to order Suliformes.

Cormorant

Order Suliformes     Family Phalacrocoracidae

The current trend is to have cormorants and shags in one family, Phalacrocoracidae, and to have the ahningas and darters in another, Phalacrocoracidae. However, these species are very similar so it would not be surprising to have them combined into one family again. A major characteristic that unites them is the lack of an oil gland for waterproofing their wings. Thus cormorants and anhingas are often seen with their wings spread out to dry their feathers.

Cormorants and shags are medium-to-large seabirds. Whether a species is call a cormorant or shag is a matter of local naming preference. They are distributed around the world, except for the central Pacific islands. They range in size from 45-100 cm. The majority have mainly dark plumage, but some species are black and white. Many species have areas of colored skin on the face which can be bright blue, orange, red or yellow. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet have webbing between all four toes, as in their relatives. They are coastal rather than oceanic birds. All are fish-eaters, dining on small eels, fish, and even water snakes. They dive from the surface. Under water they propel themselves with their feet.


Genus Phalacrocorax

Cormorant, Brandt's  Phalacrocorax penicillatus   Found: pacific coast of North America
The Brandt's Cormorant has mainly black plumage; white cheek; blue throat when breeding.
Similar to: Pelagic Cormorant. The range of Brandt's Cormorant and Pelagic Cormorant are similar, but Brandt's Comorant is easy to identify because of its white cheek. Also, in breeding season Brandt's Cormorant has a blue throat.
Image by: 1) Alan Veron - California  2) Elaine R. Wilson - California 3) Alan D. Wilson - California  4) Teddy Llovet - California     5) Mike Baird at Morro Bay,California  6) Emily Andrews - California  7) Franco Folini - California 
1, 2) Juvenile  3, 4, 5) Nonbreeding   6, 7) Breeding



Cormorant, Double-crested Phalacrocorax auritus   Found: North America and Central America
The Double-crested Cormorant has black plumage; bare patch of orange-yellow facial skin; small black-and-white crest when breeding. Juvenile has ligher upperparts; whitish underparts.
Similar to: Anhinga. Anhinga has a narrower neck than the Double-crested Cormants. The Anhinga's bill is thin and pointed while the Double-crested Cormorant's is thicker and hooked at the end.
Similar to: Great Cormorant. Great Cormorant is larger and bulkier than Double-crested Cormorant. Double-crested Cormorant has more yellow on throat and bill.
Similar to: Neotropic Cormorant.  Neotropic Comornat is smaller than Double-crested Cormorant and usually has a longer tail. Breeding adult Neotropic Cormorants have a white edge to their throat patch.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7,  9) Dick Daniels - North Carolina   8) Dick - Half Moon Bay, California  10) Dick - Lake Okeechobee, Florida   5)   Len Blumin - California  11)  Robert - New York  12)  Mike Baird - California
1, 2, 3) Juvenile  4 - 8) nonbreeding  11) breeding eastern  12) breeding western


Cormorant, Great Phalacrocorax carbo   Found: North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand
The Great Cormorant is a large cormorant. It has black plumage (except for race White-beasted Cormorant); long tail; yellow throat patch; white near bill. Breeding has white on head. White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax c. lucidus) is the only subspecies of Great Cormorant found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Similar to: Double-crested Cormorant. Great Cormorant is larger and bulkier than Double-crested Cormorant. Double-crested Cormorant has more yellow on throat and bill.
Image by: 1, 3) Oystercatcher - Australia  2, 3, 4) Dick Daniels - New Zealand   5) Arend Vermazeren  6, 7) BS Thurner Hof    8) Andy Li   9) Dirk Roorda - Germany  10) Dick - Knysna Lagoon, Kenya  11) Dick - Plettenberg Bay, South Africa  12) Cristiano Crolle - Maggiore Lake, Italy
1) Juvenile  2, 3, 4, 5) nonbreeding  6, 7, 8, 9) breeding  10, 11) White-breasted Cormorant





Cormorant, Neotropic Phalacrocorax brasilianus   Found: south USA to southern South America
The Neotropic Cormorant has mainly black plumage; yellow-brown throat porch; white tufts on side of head when breeding. Juveniles have brownish plumage.
Similar to: Double-crested Cormorant. Neotropic Comornat is smaller than Double-crested Cormorant and usually has a longer tail. Breeding adult Neotropic Cormorants have a white edge to their throat patch.
Image by: 1) Greg M - Texas  2) Daniele Columbo - Brazil   3) Dick Daniels - Lima, Peru  4) Dick Daniels - Panama  5, 6) J N Stuart - New Mexico  7) Hans Hillewaert - Costa Rica   8) Dario Sanches  - Brazil
1) Juvenile  2) nonbreeding adult  4, 5, 6) breeding adult


Cormorant, Pelagic  also  Baird's Cormorant  Phalacrocorax pelagicus  Found: west North America, Asia
The Pelagic Cormorant has iridescent black plumage; black feet; black long thin bill. During breeding season it has white on nape, thigh.  
Similar to: Brandt's Cormorant. The range of Brandt's Cormorant and Pelagic Cormorant are similar, but Brandt's Comorant is easy to identify because of its white cheek. Also, in breeding season Brandt's Cormorant has a blue throat.
Similar to: Red-faced Cormorant. The ranges of these two species are very similar and they often share the same breeding grounds. Breeding Red-faced Cormorants have extensive red on their face while the red of breeding Pelagic Cormorants is restricted to below their eyes. Nonbreeding Red-faced Cormorants still have some red on their face while Pelagic Cormorants do not.
Image by: 1) Kevin Cole - Morro Rock on the Pacific Coast of USA  2, 3) Dick Daniels - Kachemak Bay, Alaska
  4) Tom Talbert - California  5) Linda Tanner   6) Mike Baird - California



Cormorant, Red-faced  Phalacrocorax urile  Found: northwest North America, Asia
The Red-face Cormorant has glossy black plumage with greenish-blue iridescense. While breeding it has orange or red facial skin; double crest. The orange / red facial skin is slightly visible when nonbreeding.
Similar to: Pelagic Cormorant. The ranges of these two species are very similar and they often share the same breeding grounds. Breeding Red-faced Cormorants have extensive red on their face while the red of breeding Pelagic Cormorants is restricted to below their eyes. Nonbreeding Red-faced Cormorants still have some red on their face while Pelagic Cormorants do not.
Image by: 1) Budd Christman - Alaska   2) USFWS  3)  Art Sowls, USFWS - Alaska  4) Bill Bouton - Alaska
4) with a Parakeet Auklet




Anhingas

Order Suliformes   Family Anhingidae - 1 genus

Anhingas and cormorants are extremely similar as regards their body and leg skeletons. But unlike the cormorants, anhingas typically inhabit fresh water lakes, rivers, marshes, swamps, and are less often found near salt water. They have completely webbed feet, and their legs are short and set far back on the body. The males have black and dark brown plumage, a short erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have a much paler plumage, and are a bit larger overall.


Genus Anhinga
Anhingas and Darters

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga   Found: southeast United States to Panama, South America
The Anhinga has glossy black upperparts with white streaking on the upper wings; gray elongated feathers on head, neck.
Similar to:
Double-crested Cormorant. Anhinga has a narrower neck than the Double-crested Cormants. The Anhinga's bill is thin and pointed while the Double-crested Cormorant's is thicker and hooked at the end. Image by: 1, 2, 3) Dick Daniels - Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge  4, 5) Dick - Jacksonville, Florida






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