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SULIFORMES

Cormorants, Anhingas, Boobies / Gannets, and Frigatebirds are rather closely related. Some assign them to their own order Suliformes; others assign them to Pelicaniformes.


Cormorant

Order Suliformes     Family Phalacrocoracidae

The current trend is to have cormorants and shags in one family, Phalacrocoracidae, and to have the anhingas 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. [abstracted from Wikipedia]


Genus Microcarbo
This genus contains the smallest of the cormorants. Some consider these species to be part of Phalacrocorax.

Cormorant,_Bank  also  Wahlberg's Cormorant  Phalacrocorax neglectus  Found: Namibia, western South Africa
The Bank Cormorant has mainly black plumage with dark brown wings. It is glossy with a bronze sheen.
Image by: 1) Nifanion  2) Colin Haycock  3) Paul Bernard


Cormorant,_Crowned  Microcarbo coronatus Found: Africa
The Crowned Cormorant has black plumage; small crest on head; red face patch. Juveniles have dark brown upperparts; paler brown underparts; no crest.
Similar to: Reed Cormorant.
Image by: 1, 2) Dick Daniels - Cape Town waterfront, South Africa  3, 4) Jerry Oldenettel - Namibia
   Juvenile. Identification based on Birds of Souhern Africa by Kenneth Newman. The white belly contrasts with a juvenile Cape Cormorant. The beak has no hook at the end, contrasted with juvenile Great Cormorant. However, Crowned Cormorants are not found commonly on shore so this ID is not definite.


Cormorant,_Little   Microcarbo niger   Found: Indian Subcontinent and east to Java
The Little Cormorant has black feet, eyes. Nonbreeding has brownish-black plumage; often white patch on throat; breeding has glossy black plumage with some white spots on the face.
Similar to: Indian Cormorant. Indian Cormorant has a longer and narrower bill; blue eyes. Little Cormorant's bill has dark eyes,
Image by:   1) Ravi Vaidyanathan  2) JJ Harrison - Thailand  3) J M Garg - India
1, 2) Nonbreeding  3) Breeding


Cormorant,_Little Pied Microcarbo melanoleucos  Found: Australia, New Zealand
The Little Pied Cormorant has black upperparts; white underparts; short yellow bill. In New Zealand some have mostly black underparts with a white throat.
Similar to: Black-faced Cormorant. Black-faced Cormorant black cap covers the eyes; Little Pied Cormorant has white above the eyes.
Similar to: Pied Cormorant. Pied Cormorant is much bigger than Little Pied Coromorant and has a proportionally longer bill.
Image by:  1, 2, 3, 6) Dick Daniels - New Zealand   4) Michael Jefferies - Australia  5) Arthur Chapman - Australia



Cormorant,_Pygmy  Microcarbo pygmaeus  Found: Europe, Asia
Image by: 1) Sergey Yeliseev - Bulgaria  2) Franceso Veronesi - Hungary  3) Martin Mecnarowski - Hungary


Cormorant,_Reed also Long-tailed Cormorant Microcarbo Africanus  Found: Africa
The Reed Cormorant has a longish tail. Breeding has glossy black plumage; short crest; yellow bill; red or yellow face patch. Nonbreeding has blackish-brown upperparts; whitish underparts; some southern races may retain head crest.
Similar to: Crowned Cormorant.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Dick Daniels - St. Lucia, South Africa   4) Paul Bernard    5, 6, 7) Dick - Fish Eagle Lodge, Knysna Lagoon in Kenya  8) Arno Meintjes   9) Steve Garvie
1 - 4) Juvenile



Genus Phalacrocorax

Cormorant,_Black-faced  Phalacrocorax fuscescens  Found: southern Australia
The Pied Cormorant has black upperparts, bill, facila skin; white underparts. Juvenile has brownish-black upperparts; brownish-white face, neck.
Similar to: Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant. Black-faced Cormorant black cap covers the eyes; Pied and Little Pied Cormorants have white above the eyes.
Image by: 1, 2) JJ Harrison - Tasmania Australia  3)  Flying Freddy - Hobart, Tasmania


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,_Cape  also Cape Shag  Phalacrocorax capensis  Found: Africa
The Cape Cormorant has glossy black plumage with a purplish tinge when breeding; orange-yellow facial skin.
Image by:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Dick Daniels - Cape Town
1, 2) Adult and juvenile


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, 3, 4, 6, 7,  9) Dick Daniels - North Carolina  2, 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,_Flightless  Phalacrocorax harrisi  Found: Galapagos Islands
The Flightless Cormorant is the only nonflying cormorant. It has blackish upperparts; brown underparts; turquoise eyes.
Image by:  1) Putneymark  2) James Preston  3) Sara Yeomans  4) NOAA Photo Library


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.
Similar to: Japanese Cormorant.
Similar to: European Shag. The Great Cormorant is larger than the European Shag and has a thicker 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,_Guanay Phalacrocorax bougainvillii Found: West coast of South America
The Guanay Cormorant has black upperparts, head; white underparts; gray bill with some red at base; roseate feet.
Image by: 1) Jens Tobiska  2) Gunnar Engblom   3)   4) Charlie Westerinen - the Lima Peru fish market
2) With Peruvian Booby


Cormorant,_Indian  Phalacrocorax fuscicollis  Found: India
The Indian Cormorant has black feet; blue eyes; small and slightly peaked head; long narrow bill that ends in a hook. Nonbreeding has brownish-black plumage; some bare yellow skin near base of bill; breeding has glossy black plumage; short white ear tuft.
Similar to: Little Cormorant. Indian Cormorant has a longer and narrower bill; blue eyes. Little Cormorant's bill has dark eyes,
Image by:   1, 3) J M Garg - India  2) Lip Kee Yap  - India
1, 2) Nonbreeding  3) Breeding


Cormorant,_Japanese  Phalacrocorax capillatus  Found: east Asia
The Japanese Cormorant has mainly black plumage; white cheeks, throat; partially yellow bill.
Similar to: Great Cormorant.
Image by: 1) Siebold  2) Aomonkuma  3) Michael Jefferies - Japan


Cormorant,_Little Black Phalacrocorax sulcirostris   Found: Australia, New Zealand
The Little Black Cormorant has black plumage (more brownish nonbreeding); gray long and slender bill; black legs; blue-green eyes. Juvenile has brown eyes; brown and black plumage.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Dick Daniels - Australia  
1) Juvenile


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,_Pied also Australian Pied Cormorant  Phalacrocorax varius   Found: Australia, New Zealand
The Pied Cormorant has black upperparts; white underparts; blue eye-ring; orange facial skin; black legs and feet.
Similar to: Black-faced Cormorant. Black-faced Cormorant black cap covers the eyes; Pied Cormorant has white above the eyes.
Similar to: Little Pied Cormorant. Pied Cormorant is much bigger than Little Pied Coromorant and has a proportionally longer bill.
Similar to: Rough-face Shag. Pied Cormorant has black feet; Rough-faced Shag has pink feet.
Image by: 1, 2, 3, 4) Dick Daniels - New Zealand


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


Cormorant,_Red-legged  Phalacrocorax gaimardi  Found: South America
The Red-legged Cormorant has mainly gray plumage; white spots on wings; white patch on neck; black tail; green eyes; yellow bill; red legs.
Image by: 1) Ronald Woan - Chile  2) Nanosmile - Argentina


Cormorant,_Socotra  Phalacrocorax nigrogularis  Found: Asia
The Socotra Cormorant has blackish plumage, legs. Breeding has slty-green tinged upperparts; glossy purple-tinged fore-crown. It is found in the Persian Gulf and the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
Image by: Nepenthes - Abu Dhabi


Shag,_Antarctic  also Antarctic Cormorant  Phalacrocorax (atriceps) bransfieldensis  Found: Antarctic region
The Antarctic Shag is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Imperial Shag, Kerguelen Shag,  Macquarie Shag, South Georgia Shag and White-bellied Shag are also considered by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag. Because of confusion regarding these shags, identification is often based on location and may not be accurate. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by:  1) Jerzy Strzelecki -Antarctic Peninsula  2, 3) Charlie Westerinen - Antarctic Peninsula


Shag,_Auckland Islands  Phalacrocorax colensoi  Found: Auckland Islands of New Zealand
The Auckland Islands Shag has black upperparts with white streak on closed wing; white underparts, throat. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by: 1) Justin Friend  2) Su Yin Khoo    3) M Murphy


Shag,_Bounty_Islands  Phalacrocorax ranfurlyi  Found: Bounty Islands - southeast of New Zealand
The Bounty Islands Shag has black upperparts with blue metallic sheen; black hind-neck; white underparts; white patch on wing; pink feet.
Image by: 1) John_Woods


Shag,_Bronze  also   Stewart Island Shag  Phalacrocorax chalconotus  Found: southern South Island of New Zealand
The Bronze Shag has two morphs. The bronze morph has dark bronze plumage. The pied morph has bronze upperparts with a white patch on the folded wing; white underparts. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Similar to: King Shag.
Image by: 1) Wayne Hodgkinson - Dunedin, New Zealand  2) Eric de Leeuw - Dunedin   3)  Anita363 - Dunedin  4) 57Andrew   5) Jim Scarff - southern New Zealand 
1) Juvenile - bronze morph 2) Bronze morph 3) Pied morph and bronze morph 4, 5) Pied Morph



Shag,_Campbell  Phalacrocorax campbelli  Found: Campbell Island (New Zealand)
Image by: 1) ngaire_hart


Shag,_Chatham  Phalacrocorax onslowi  Found: Chatham Islands (New Zealand)
Image by: 1) Biodiversity_Heritage_Library


Shag,_European  also  Common Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The European Shag is a medium sized cormorant. It has black plumage; yellow throat patch; long tail; long thin tail; greenish sheen to plumage when breeding..
Similar to: Great Cormorant. The Great Cormorant is larger than the European Shag and has a thicker bill.
Image by: 1) Julius Ruckert - Croatia  2, 5) Andreas Trepte  3) Martin Mecnarowski - Norway  4) MPF - Northumberland, UK 



Shag,_Heard_Island  Phalacrocorax nivalis  Found: Heard Islands - southwest of Perth, Australia
The Heard Island Shag has black upperparts; white underparts; white wing patch; pink feet.
Image by: 1) Richard_Arculus


Shag,_Imperial also Imperial Comorant  Phalacrocorax atriceps  Found: South America, Antarctic region
The Imperial Shag has black upperparts; white underparts; blue eyes. The following are considererd by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag: Antarctic Shag, Kerguelen Shag, Macquarie Shag, South Georgia Shag, White-bellied Shag. They are all Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by:  1) Richard Crook   2) Calyponte Beagle Channel, southern Argentina    3, 4, 5) Charlie Westerinen - Ushuaia, Argentina in the Beagle Channel


Shag,_Kerguelen  Phalacrocorax verrucosus  Found: Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean
The Kerguelen Shag is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Imperial Shag, Antarctic Shag, Macquarie Shag, South Georgia Shag and White-bellied Shag are also considered by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag. Because of confusion regarding these shags, identification is often based on location and may not be accurate. The Macguarie Shag is found on Macquarie Island and the nearby Bishop and Clerk Islets, about half way between Australian and Antarctica. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Gazelle
1) Chick  2) Juvenile  3) Adult


Shag,_Macquarie  Phalacrocorax purpurascens  Found: Macquarie Island in Southern Ocean
The Macguarie Shag is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Imperial Shag, Antarctic Shag, Kerguelen Shag, South Georgia Shag and White-bellied Shag are also considered by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag. Because of confusion regarding these shags, identification is often based on location and may not be accurate. The Macguarie Shag is found on Macquarie Island and the nearby Bishop and Clerk Islets, about half way between Australian and Antarctica. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by: 1) Hullwarren


Shag,_Rock also Magellan Cormorant  Phalacrocorax Magellanicus  Found: South America  (Patagonia, Argentina)
The Rock Shag has black upperparts, head, neck; white underparts; red facial skin; pinkish legs.
Image by: 1) Arthur Chapman near Ushuaia, Argentina  2) Andrew Cheal - Falkland Islands  3) Ealdgyth 


Shag,_Rough-faced  also King Shag  Phalacrocorax carunculatus  Found: New Zealand
The Rough-faced Shag has black upperparts; white underparts; black tuft on head; yellow-orange swelling at base of bill; blue eye-ring; pink feet. Gray gular pouch is reddish in breeding season. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Similar to: Pied Cormorant. Pied Cormorant has black feet; Rough-faced Shag has pink feet.
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Jinjian Liang - Seaworld
1) Rough-faced Shag on left, Pied Cormorant on right


Shag,_South Georgia  Phalacrocorax georgianus  Found: South Atlantic Ocean
The South Georgia Shag is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Imperial Shag, Antarctic Shag, Kerguelen Shag, Macquarie Shag and White-bellied Shag are also considered by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag. Because of confusion regarding these shags, identification is often based on location and may not be accurate. The South Georgia Shag is found on South Georgia and a few other subantarctic islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the Blue-eyed Shags.
Image by: 1) Brian Gratwicke - South Georgia   2) Liam Quinn - South Georgia


Shag,_Spotted Phalacrocorax punctatus   Found: New Zealand
The Spotted Shag has brown upperparts with dark spots; white underparts; white sides of neck and face;  dark blue-green crown, throat; white crest in mating season.
Image by: 1) Brian Gratwicke   2) Sid Mosdell  3) Seabird NZ  4) Christopher Hynes


Shag,_White-bellied  also   King Cormorant  Phalacrocorax albiventer  Found: Falkland Islands, southern Argentina and Chile
The White-bellied Shag is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Imperial Shag, Antarctic Shag, Kerguelen Shag, Macquarie Shag and South Georgia Shag, are also considered by some to be subspecies of the Imperial Shag. Because of confusion regarding these shags, identification is often based on location and may not be accurate.
Note: The Rough-faced Shag of New Zealand is also called the King Shag which can lead to confusion with the White-bellied Shag (King Cormorant).
Image by: 1) Nestor Galina - Patagonia  2) Liam Quinn 




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