Black-faced Cormorant

Did you know?

There are about 30 species of cormorants in the world, including five in Australia. The Black-faced Cormorant is Australia's only fully marine cormorant (often called a shag).

Silent except when courting, when the male has a loud gutteral grunt and the female a soft hissing sound.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
September to January
Clutch Size: 
Up to five, usually three.
Conservation Status
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Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Black-faced Cormorant is a large pied (black and white) cormorant with a naked black face. The upper parts are also black, the underparts are white, with a black mark on each thigh. The bill is dark grey, and the eyes are blue-green. The legs and feet are black. This species is also called the Black-faced Shag (shags are strictly marine cormorants).

Similar species: 

The similarly sized and coloured Pied CormorantP. varius, has a yellow-orange naked face and a paler, grey bill. The Little Pied CormorantP. melanoleucos, is smaller and has a yellow bill.

Where does it live?

The Black-faced Cormorant is found along the southern coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania, and is common in Bass Strait and in Spencer Gulf, South Australia.


Black-faced Cormorants frequent coastal waters and are found in flocks in large bays, deep inlets, rocky headlands and islands. They seldom visit beaches.

Seasonal movements: 

Black-faced Cormorants are sedentary.

What does it do?

Black-faced Cormorants feed on small fish, which they catch by diving from the surface. After fishing, they sit with wings outstretched, apparently to dry their non-waterproofed feathers.


The Black-faced Cormorant breeds throughout the year in large colonies on off-shore islands. The nest is always on the ground, usually of seaweed and grasses on bare rock.

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