Bird Families

Crested cormorant


Latin name:Phalacrocorax carbo
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior. A large waterfowl the size of a goose. Body length 80–95 cm, wingspan 130–150 cm, weight 1.7–2.8 kg. The plumage is almost completely black. It takes off from the water with difficulty, after a long takeoff run (up to 100 m), from the ground - using a springboard or also from a takeoff run. The flight is difficult, with rather frequent flaps of the wings. It practically cannot soar. During short flights it stays near the water, during migrations it flies high. In flight, it stretches its long neck and legs in a line. It walks badly on the ground. Sits upright, often with open wings (a specific posture, typical only for cormorants). Swims and dives well. In floating birds, the tail is lowered into the water and is not visible. It can climb trees by clinging to its legs and helping with its wings. Most often it is kept in flocks. Cautious, trying to fly away when a person approaches.

Description... The beak is elongated, with a hook. The frenulum, the eye ring and the base of the lower jaw are naked in adults and juveniles. In males and females in breeding plumage, elongated black feathers on the back of the head form a small crest. The general color of the plumage is black, on the back with a bronze sheen and dark edging of individual back feathers. The sides of the head and the spots on the sides of the thigh are white. The bare skin on the head is yellow. At the beginning of the mating season, elongated narrow white feathers appear on the head and neck, disappearing by the beginning of incubation. Emerald eyes. The beak is brownish-black. In winter plumage, the top of the head and neck are black, there are no white spots on the sides. The plumage of the back is black with a metallic greenish-purple sheen.

Young birds are brown, their belly is lighter than the top and can be almost white. At the age of one year, the plumage of the head and neck is brownish-gray with small white specks. The ventral side of the body is white with dark brown longitudinal large spots. The undertail is brownish-black with rare white streaks. The dorsal side, with the exception of the head and neck, is the same as in adult birds, but almost without shine. The summer outfit of birds at the age of two is similar to that of an adult. A metallic sheen appears on the plumage. A small white spot forms on the hips, and white narrow feathers begin to appear on the head and neck, but the crest of black feathers is not yet present. It differs from the cormorant in large size, from the crested cormorant - in white spots on the cheek and on the side. It differs from other birds in flight in black coloration and a long rounded tail.

Vote... In general, he is silent. May be noisy at nests during feeding. The voice is like a rough, dull quack or croak.

Distribution, status... The range of the species consists of many spots scattered almost all over the world. In European Russia, 2 subspecies nest, differing only in the shade of the brilliance of the plumage: the mainland cormorant Ph. from. sinensis (coasts of the Baltic, Black, Azov and Caspian seas, the lower reaches of the Volga river, Volga-Ural steppes, Lake Baikal, Primorye) and the Atlantic cormorant Ph. from. carbo (Kola Peninsula). The southern populations of the species are partially sedentary, the northern ones are migratory and nomadic. In recent years, the mainland subspecies has been expanding its range to the north and in most of the indicated places it is common or numerous, the Atlantic subspecies is more rare.

Lifestyle... During migrations, it prefers large reservoirs rich in fish with a slow current and clear water. During the nesting time, the rocky shores of the seas and the shores of inland water bodies overgrown with reeds and woody vegetation. Begins to reproduce at the age of three years. Monogs. Nests in multi-species colonies, builds large nests on reed creases, trees, rocks or on the ground. In clutch there are 2–5 bluish eggs, often with white calcareous spots. Both parents incubate for about a month. The hatched chick is naked, black, with a pinkish head; later it is covered with brownish-black down. The throat sac remains naked and gradually turns yellow. At the age of two months, young birds begin to fly and become independent. It feeds mainly on fish.

Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)


A large seabird the size of a goose. Body length 68–78 cm, wingspan 95–110 cm, weight about 2 kg. The plumage is black with a metallic sheen. It takes off with difficulty, usually from a cliff or a cliff, from the water - after a long run. The flight is heavy, with frequent flaps of the wings. In flight, it stretches its long neck and legs. He walks poorly on the ground, keeping his body upright. Forced to dry the plumage for a long time, sitting on the stones and spreading its wings. It swims and dives well, landing on the water is low, in floating birds only the head and a small part of the body are visible. Packed look. Cautious, does not allow a person to come close.

Males and females in breeding plumage have a small black crest on the front of the head, the feathers of which are bent forward at the apex. The plumage is black with a green metallic sheen. Back feathers and wing coverts with shiny velvety black edging forming a scaly pattern. The legs are black. The beak is black, during the mating season, and sometimes even after it, a yellow spot stands out on the area of ​​bare skin at the base of the lower jaw. The lower jaw is yellowish. Green eyes.
In winter plumage in adult birds, the color of plumage does not change, but the crest disappears.
In young birds, the upper part of the body is black with a faint green metallic sheen. The upper wing coverts are bordered along the contour with dark stripes. The chin is off-white. The neck is brown with small streaks. The underparts are off-white with occasional blurred spots on the chest and sides of the belly. Flight and tail feathers are dark brown, without shine. Legs are pinkish. The bill is brown with a dark stripe along the ridge of the beak.
At the age of one year, the upper side of the body has a green metallic sheen. The wings are dark brown, with fawn edging of the coverts, which form a pale stripe on the wing in a flying bird. The underside of the body is brown, without streaks and shine. The chin is off-white. The legs are brown.
It differs from other birds in flight in black color and a long rounded tail. Adult birds differ from the cormorant in their small size, thinner and longer beak, the absence of a crest on the forehead and white spots on the throat and side in the breeding plumage. Young birds are distinguished by a dark belly, a thinner beak and protruding small feathers on the forehead (in young cormorants, feathers stick out on the back of the head, closer to the back of the head).

Vote... Silent bird. Only near the nest it makes low wheezing sounds resembling a dull croak.


The area covers the sea coast of Western Europe from the Kola Peninsula to the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Distribution is generally sporadic, in the south it is sedentary, in the north it is nomadic.
There are 2 subspecies in European Russia: Mediterranean long-nosed cormorant Ph. a. desmarestii (the closest nesting place is Crimea) and the Atlantic long-nosed cormorant Ph. a. aristotelis (nests on the Murmansk coast). Birds of different subspecies differ in the color of the swimming membranes (brown and black, respectively), the length of the beak and crest.
On the Murmansk coast, the crested cormorant is a rare nesting species. They migrate along the coast of Scandinavia in a south-western direction, some birds remain to winter on the Murmansk coast. On the Russian coast of the Black Sea, it occurs during the period of autumn migrations; at this time, bird registrations are also possible off the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov.


A seabird, connected to land only during the breeding season, spends the rest of the time at sea near the coast. It prefers to nest on rocky coasts, islands and on separate rocks in the sea. Breeds in colonies, often together with other cormorants, gulls and guillemots. Nest is built from twigs, algae and grass, usually in rock crevices, in niches and under stones. Open nests are rare. In clutch there are most often 3 blue eggs covered with a white lime layer. Both parents incubate for a month. Chicks hatch naked and blind, plumage development is slow, soon the chick is covered with blackish-brown down, somewhat lighter on the head and neck. The bare skin around the eyes is dark, in the corners of the mouth and on the lower jaw - a dirty yellow color. The eyes are light brown. Legs are brownish black. Chicks leave the nest at the age of two months.
It feeds on fish. It usually hunts alone.

Sources of information

Complete guide to birds of the European part of Russia. In 3 parts. Part 1.S. I-49. Authors: E.A. Koblik, Ya.A. Redkin, M.V. Kalyakin, V.V. Morozov, I.S. Smetanin, S.A. Kouzov, S.M. Kosenko, H. Groot Kurkamp, ​​V.K. Ryabitsev, D.R. Khaidarov, V.V. Kontorshchikov, M.V. Melnikov, P.S. Tomkovich, V.Yu. Arkhipov.

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