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Neotropic Cormorant

Phalacrocorax brasilianus ORDER: SULIFORMES FAMILY: PHALACROCORACIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of the tropical waterways of Central and South America, the Neotropic Cormorant reaches the upper limits of its range in Texas and occasionally, the Great Plains. Although it superficially resembles North America's other freshwater cormorant, the Double-crested Cormorant, the Neotropic Cormorant stands apart in various aspects of behavior, as well as range.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
24 in
61 cm
Wingspan
40.2 in
102 cm
Weight
37.7–52.9 oz
1070–1500 g
Other Names
  • Olivaceous Cormorant, Brazilian Cormorant, Mexican Cormorant
  • Cormoran vigua (French)
  • Cormorán biquá, Pato negro, Pato puerco, Pato cordo, Cuervo marino (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Neotropic Cormorant is the only cormorant known to plunge-dive into water to catch fish. Unlike gannets and boobies, it does not dive from great heights, restricting its dives to less than a half-meter (1.75 feet) over the water. It is not particularly successful with this technique, catching a fish only once in every six to ten plunges.
  • In Mexico, Neotropic Cormorants reportedly often fish cooperatively, forming a line across swift-flowing streams and striking the surface with their wings, causing fish to flee, whereupon the cormorants dive and pursue them.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Various wetlands, including fresh, brackish, and saltwater habitats. Nests and roosts mostly in trees, but also on cliffs and human-made structures.

Food


Fish

Small fish and shrimp.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Egg Description
Light blue.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

A rough bowl of sticks, sometimes cemented together with guano. Placed in trees, but also on cliffs and human-made structures. Nests in colonies.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives from surface, using feet for propulsion through water. Catches fish under water, then takes prey to surface and swallows it headfirst. Also plunge-dives from above water.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

In the 1960s, Neotropic Cormorant populations declined severely in Texas; since then, these populations have shown a general trend toward growth. The cause of the declines is not conclusively understood.

Credits

  • Telfair, R. C., and M. L. Morrison. 1995. Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). In The Birds of North America, No. 137 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Neotropic Cormorant Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings