Pied Cormorant

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What does it look like?

The Pied Cormorant is a large black and white bird with a long, grey, hooked bill and black legs and feet. It has an orange eye-patch and bare throat skin, with a blue eye-ring and the eye is green. Its black back is glossed green, and its underparts are all white, except for black stripes on the thighs. Flocks normally fly in V-shaped formations and sometimes in lines.

Similar species: 

The Pied Cormorant is similar to the Black-faced Cormorant (previously, Black-faced Shag), P. (Leucocarbo) fuscescens, but is slightly larger, and lacks the black face and bill. It has instead a yellow-orange eyepatch and throat, a blue eye-ring and a paler bill. Its long, slender pale bill (rather than stubby and yellow), as well as its multi-coloured face and throat skin and much larger size, also distinguish it from the Little Pied CormorantP. melanoleucos. In addition, the Little Pied Cormorant flies singly, not in V-shaped formations.

Where does it live?

The Pied Cormorant is found throughout mainland Australia. It is more common in the south and along the coast of south-western Australia and is not found in the driest parts of the interior. It is also found in New Zealand.


The Pied Cormorant is found in marine habitats (almost exclusively so in Western Australia), including estuaries, harbours and bays. It is also found in mangroves and on large inland wetlands in eastern Australia.

Seasonal movements: 

Sedentary, but young birds will disperse over long distances.

What does it do?

The Pied Cormorant mainly feeds on fish, but will also take crustaceans and molluscs. Like other cormorants, it catches prey underwater, by diving and swimming using its large, fully webbed feet for propulsion. It has special nictitating membranes that cover and protect the eyes underwater. As their feathers are not waterproof, cormorants are regularly seen perched with their wings outstretched to dry after fishing.


The Pied Cormorant breeds in colonies on coastal islands, flooded tree plains, mangroves and sometimes on artificial structures such as beacons. The large nest is constructed from seaweed, twigs or sticks cemented together with droppings, and is placed in a tree or on the ground. Both parents build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

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