Great Cormorant Life History


Habitat ShorelinesBreeds along rocky maritime coasts, nesting on cliff ledges or rocky islands free of predators, and feeding in sheltered inshore waters. Winters along coast.Back to top


Food FishFish.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cliff

Nest Description

On rocks, nest is a mound or heap of seaweed and sticks; in trees, nest is a solid stick structure lined with grasses and feathers. Nests colonially, often with Double-crested Cormorants and gulls.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-7 eggs
Egg Description:Pale bluish green with white chalky covering.
Condition at Hatching:Naked and helpless, with black skin.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives from the surface of the water and chases prey underwater. Grabs fish in bill, without spearing it.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernGreat Cormorant populations in the northwestern Atlantic appear to be stable. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental breeding population of 11,600 birds, rate the species a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and list it as a Species of Moderate Concern. Great Cormorant are not listed on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Populations were greatly reduced in 19th century, probably from direct persecution.Back to top


Hatch, Jeremy J., Kevin M. Brown, Geoffrey G. Hogan and Ralph D. Morris. 2000. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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