Until at least the 16th century, cormorants were thought to be related to corvids, which explains their scientific name: Phalacrocorax is from the Greek “bald-headed raven”.

The feathers of cormorants are unusual in that they allow moisture to penetrate. This makes cormorants heavier in water, allowing them to overcome some buoyancy and dive deeper. They can swim and dive to a depth of about ten metres. However, when they emerge from water, they must spend time preening and drying their feathers. This is why you’ll often see cormorants perched with wings outstretched. To cool off they will flutter their gular pouch, as seen in this photo.

Cormorants usually breed in mixed-species colonies and often return at sites and nests of the previous years. They are usually silent, but at colonies and near the nest, they produce grunts, growls, squeals and hisses and together they can make quite some noise!

White-breasted Cormorant

The White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus) is the most geographically variable of all cormorants, distinguished from other forms of the great cormorant by its white breast and by the fact that subpopulations are freshwater birds.

The White-breasted Cormorant is found in sub-saharan Africa and identified by the large size and the glossy dark brown plumage and white underparts. The feathers on the upper wing are broadly edged pale buff, creating a scaled effect. In the right light they are pretty birds and they certainly do have beautiful turquoise-green eyes. Click on the image and see for yourself!

Click on photo to view all pictures of the White-breasted Cormorant or choose another Cormorant below.

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