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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Guanay Cormorant: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Guanay cormorant facts are about a bird native to Peru and northern Chile.

There are close to 42 species of cormorant in the world. Guanay cormorant's scientific name is Phalacrocorax bougainvillii and is popularly known as Guanay shag. 'Cormorant' comes from the Greek word 'phalakros', meaning 'bald' and 'korax', meaning 'sea raven'. The Guanay cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) is one of the 42 species and belongs to the family Phalacrocoracidae.

This species is a carnivorous being and feeds primarily on fish. They are endemic to Peru and northern Chile and their population is classified as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN Red List. A Guanay cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) has dark outer parts and white to off-white underparts. They are known to live in large colonies and are seldom seen solitary. They hunt, live, and travel together with their colonies. These birds have the ability to swim as well as fly. The Guanay cormorant, or Guanay shag, and other cormorant species are seen in most coastal regions except in the Pacific islands.

For more relatable content, check out these little auk and black-browed albatross articles as well.

Guanay Cormorant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Guanay cormorant?

The Guanay cormorant is a type of bird that belongs to kingdom Animalia and order Suliformes.

What class of animal does a Guanay cormorant belong to?

The Guanay cormorant is a type of bird that belongs to class Aves, family Phalacrocoracidae, and genus Phalacrocorax.

How many Guanay cormorants are there in the world?

The Guanay cormorant's population size in 1984 was 3 million. However, there has been more than a 30 percent reduction in their population hence the IUCN lists them as a Near Threatened species. Their populations are expected to decline further. A major threat to their population level is habitat loss.

Where does a Guanay cormorant live?

A Guanay cormorant, or Guanay shag, lives in coastal regions near the ocean. The Guanay cormorant is a bird species that is native to Peru and northern Chile. Breeding pairs are seldom seen out in the open and they stay close together in colonies.

What is a Guanay cormorant's habitat?

The Guanay cormorant's habitat constitutes rocky shores, islands, and regions near shallow seas. They prefer residing in large colonies in spaces where they can find food as well as shelter. They are seen in most coastal regions except the Pacific islands.

Who do Guanay cormorants live with?

Guanay cormorants live with other species of their own kind in large colonies. They are seldom seen alone, meaning they are not solitary beings. They coexist with other species in the wild.

How long does a Guanay cormorant live?

Cormorants are expected to live up to 25 years in the wild.  Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, is the oldest bird recorded and lived up to 70 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season occurs between November and December. Breeding males and females reach sexual maturity when they are two to three years old. Their nesting sites may vary from the ground, trees, or cliff faces during the breeding season. Females and males mate sexually and lay three to five eggs towards the end of the breeding season. Incubation lasts one month. The young chicks post-hatching stay in their nests for another two months. Parents feed food to their young and provide shelter to them. They live in colonies and stay in the same regions through the breeding season.

What is their conservation status?

The Guanay cormorant is classified as a Near Threatened species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN).

Guanay Cormorant Fun Facts

What do Guanay cormorants look like?

A Guanay cormorant is medium size bird with black outer parts and white feathers under its head and neck. These white feathers stand out when you observe this bird species. Their head and neck are similar to a pelican species but relatively smaller in size.  They have a small bill which is grayish with red towards its base. Their faces are red with a green eye ring and their eye is dark in color. They use their bill to pick food. They have webbed feet which helps them move and get a grip near the wet ground.

Guanay cormorants are birds that are medium-sized with black outer parts and white feathers on their underparts with a short bill.

How cute are they?

Guanay cormorant birds are not ideally cute but they are an exotic species of bird and a must-see for all birdwatchers. Young chicks are extremely attractive in appearance as compared to adults however, they are rarely seen out in the open.  

How do they communicate?

These Guanay shag birds communicate via calls and various courtship calls. They can be loud birds and have an irritating voice similar to an oinking pig. They have aggressive courtship displays and since they live in large colonies, they tend to communicate with other birds frequently.  

How big is a Guanay cormorant?

A Guanay shag is 31-39 in (81-100 cm) in length which is 50 times bigger than a little penguin which is 12-13 in (30-33 cm).

How fast can a Guanay cormorant move?

The exact flying speed of a Guanay shag is not known however cormorants have been recorded to fly at 35 mph (55 kph.). They are capable of both swimming and flying.

How much does a Guanay cormorant weigh?

A Guanay shags weigh 3.3-12 lb (1.5-5.3 kg). A flightless cormorant is considered to be the heaviest among the other members of the same family and weighs 11 lb (5 kg).  

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female Guanay shags are not addressed differently. They differ slightly in appearance in terms of their size and reproductive functions. Breeding pairs tend to stay together with their colonies.

What would you call a baby Guanay cormorant?

A baby Guanay cormorant is referred to as a chick. Young guanay shags are dependent on their parents  and live in regions near the coast until they are independent. They stay near the coast and are rarely seen in other regions.  

What do they eat?

The Guanay shag is primarily a carnivore and feeds on marine species like fish, eels, and small water snakes available near coastal regions.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds are not dangerous. They are wild birds and best observed from a distance in their natural habitat. They are largely seen in colonies in the wild.  

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds thrive in their natural habitat and are not fit to be adopted. You could visit them in a Guanay cormorant zoo. Other cormorant species are in zoos like the Saint Louis Aoo and the Maryland Zoo.

Did you know...

In certain cultures, cormorants were used for fishing by tying a loop around their throat so they would only swallow small fishes when released into the water and bigger fish would be trapped in their bills.

All of them secrete oils from their body which keep their feathers waterproof. However, when they don't produce enough oil, they spread their wings out to dry them.

What is special about cormorants?

Cormorants have a unique bone on the back of the top of their skull. This bony projection acts as an anchorage for muscles increasing the force with which the lower mandible is used. This feature is only seen in this species of birds. Their feathers were used in various cultures as ornamentation in a wing drying pose which resembled a Christian cross and symbolized sacrifice and nobility.

How long can cormorants hold their breath?

They can dive up to 100 ft (30.48 m) deep in order to catch fish beneath the water. They can stay underwater for more than 60 minutes.  They don't stay underwater or hold their breath unless they have to catch prey. This is amusing considering they are bird species. The Atlantic puffin is another similar species that is known to swim underwater and catch prey.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Indian runner duck facts and sandpiper facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable guanay cormorant coloring pages.

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