Great cormorant

Species profile

Name: the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) – also known as the black shag, great black cormorant, black cormorant, or large cormorant – is a common seabird found around the world.

Appearance: great cormorants are black birds with glossy feathers and white and yellow throats. They can be distinguished from the closely related common shag by their larger size, thicker beaks, and lack of a crest.

Size: great cormorants are one of the largest cormorant species, although can vary in size considerably. The smallest weigh around 1.5 kg while the biggest can reach up to 5.3 kg, with wingspans between 120 and 160 cm. Males are typically larger and heavier than females.

Diet: they feed on fish which they catch by diving into the water. Their favourite species include wrasse, smelt, flathead, and common sole.

Did you know: many fishermen used to see great cormorants as competitors for fish. And as a result, they were nearly hunted to extinction. Thanks to conservation efforts they are now common although this means they are now coming into conflict with fishermen again. In the UK, licences are issued to cull these beautiful birds to reduce the impacts on fishing. Our relationship with great cormorants is not always so antagonistic, however, and fishermen in China and Japan have worked in partnership with cormorants to catch fish together for many years.

Location: great cormorants are common and widespread. They can be found in seas, estuaries, and freshwater lakes and rivers wherever there is a good supply of fish.

Where to see Great Cormorants

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see great cormorants in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Sevenoaks
England
86%
very high
2.9
average
7
reports
Peckham Rye
England
25%
low
3.0
good
12
reports

Photo credit: sarangib under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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