Great Cormorant

Silhouette CormorantsCormorants

Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo
  • ORDER: Suliformes
  • FAMILY: Phalacrocoracidae
Basic Description

Along the shorelines of northeastern North America, burly Great Cormorants mix in with slimmer, more abundant Double-crested Cormorants. These large-billed, blocky-headed cormorants have a white throat patch and in breeding season a white patch on the thigh. They feed mostly on bottom-dwelling fish captured during dives. Like other cormorants their plumage has limited waterproofing, and they often stand on rocks with their wings outstretched to dry. In the water, soggy feathers may be a bonus and not a liability, making the birds less buoyant during their dives.

More ID Info
image of range map for Great CormorantRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

In North America, Great Cormorants live mainly in saltwater environments, although in recent decades they have begun to winter on large rivers such as the Hudson and the Delaware. Rocky headlands in New England or Atlantic Canada are optimal places to find Great Cormorants, but almost any rocky shoreline within their range could host them, including jetties, breakwaters, and islands. They tend to form smaller flocks than the more numerous Double-crested Cormorant.

Other Names
  • Cormorán Grande (Spanish)
  • Grand Cormoran (French)
  • Cool Facts