Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Great cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

Photo by Björn Dellming (PBase)

Common name:
great cormorant (en); corvo-marinho-de-faces-brancas (pt); grand cormoran (fr); cormorán grande (es); kormoran (de)

Order Pelecaniformes
Family Phalacrocoracidae

This widespread species is found throughout most of Europe, central and southern Asia, north-western and eastern Africa, along the coast of eastern North America, and throughout Australia.

These large cormorants are 70-100 cm long and have a wingspan of  120-160 cm. They weigh 2,6-3,7 kg.

The great cormorant is found in coastal waters, estuaries, rocky shores, mangroves, large lakes and rivers, and deep marshes, including inland wetlands located far from the coast.

They mostly hunt fish, such as sculpins, capelins, gadids, mullets and flatfishes, but also crustaceans, amphibians, molluscs and bird nestlings.

Great cormorants are monogamous and pair bonds may last several years. They nest in colonies of up to 9.000 pairs, each pair nesting in a rocky ledge in a small rocky island or coastal cliff, which they line with twigs. The female lays 3-5 bluish-green eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 28-31 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 45-55 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from the parents for another 2-3 months. They reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years of age.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1,4-2,9 million individuals. The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends.

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