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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

17 Indian Cormorant Facts You’ll Never Forget

Indian Cormorant Fact File

The Indian cormorant or more commonly known as the Indian shag is a bird belonging to the family of Great cormorant. Its scientific name is Phalacrocorax fuscicollis. The bird is mainly a native of the Indian subcontinent but can be found in the eastern regions of Thailand and Cambodia. The species is a gregarious one that can be easily distinguished from its similar counterparts such as the Little cormorant and the Great cormorant.

The Indian cormorant can be distinguished by its distinct blue eyes, small head, triangular forehead, and a long bill, neck with a hooked tip. A medium-sized adult is brown and black in color on its upper plumage. It lacks a crest unlike its similar other species and has a slightly heightened head with long bills, blue eyes, yellow facial skin that usually comes up during the non-breeding season. Their choice of food consists of fish and other aquatic creatures.

If you like reading about shag birds, here are two more interesting species just for you - the great crested flycatcher and palm cockatoo.

Indian Cormorant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Indian cormorant?

An Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) is a type of shag bird like the Great cormorant.

What class of animal does an Indian cormorant belong to?

The Phalacrocorax fuscicollis is a member of the Aves class of animals from the family of Phalacrocoracidae.

How many Indian cormorants are there in the world?

The population count of the shag, Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) is estimated to be within the range of 1,000,000-2,800,000 or less.

Where does an Indian cormorant live?

The Indian cormorant prefers living in large wetlands found in the Indian subcontinent and eastwards towards Thailand and Cambodia where large freshwater water bodies are available. The shag birds also seem to do well in estuaries and mangroves but avoid the Western coast as much as possible, probably due to the availability of open-coast waters.

What is an Indian cormorant's habitat?

The Indian cormorant habitat consists of inland waters such as rivers, large wetlands, estuaries, mangroves, and other similar water bodies where they nest and breed locally with other species. The birds do not like open-coast waters and avoid the regions surrounding them.

Who do Indian cormorants live with?

Indian cormorants (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) are quite gregarious in nature which results in their map of communal roosts even after the breeding seasons. They are said to be quite cooperative during fish hunts and prefer being together with their flocks in large water bodies.

How long does an Indian cormorant live?

The life expectancy of an Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) or shag can go up to 25 years or less in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The mating rituals typically depend on the amount of food they intake as more food results in more breeding capabilities. The breeding season usually begins in July and depends on the weather conditions. In the Northern regions of India, they start breeding from July-February and in Sri Lanka, it is between November-February. The nest is a type of platform made from twigs and half-submerged trees or vegetation growing around in the habitat. It is placed in close proximity to other birds' nests such as stocks and water birds within a large colony. The female shag lays about three to six eggs that are bluish-green in color with a chalky surface.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN red list, the Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) falls under the Least Concern list of species.

Indian Cormorant Fun Facts

What do Indian cormorants look like?

The cormorants are small-sized birds with slender bodies and triangular heads. It is 20.1-21.1 in (510-535 mm) long and is usually black in color. It has a white throat and neck plume while its wings are silver. The bird has a long tail and can be distinguished from its similar counterparts like the Little cormorant and the Great cormorant, with its blue eyes, a long bill that's tipped on the edge, neck, and sloping forehead. The bird also lacks a crest and a shiny black plumage. The non-breeding juveniles look alike.

Indian cormorant is similar to an Indian shag but has a longer bill with an edged tip in India.

How cute are they?

The bird species have very sharp features including its slender bill and head, which might come across as scary instead of cute.

How do they communicate?

Being gregarious in nature, the cormorants are quite loud and communicative. They are social birds who like to stay in flocks and form mixed breeding colonies where they talk and co-operate with other birds of different species.

How big is an Indian cormorant?

Smaller than a desert tortoise, an Indian cormorant size range falls within 20.1-21.1 in (51-53.5 cm).

How fast can an Indian cormorant fly?

The exact speed of flight is not known but some species of Cormorants are estimated to fly with a speed of 35 mph (55 kph).

How much does an Indian cormorant weigh?

An Indian cormorant weighs about 0.77-11 lb (0.35-5 kg), slightly similar to chickens.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Since both the male and female birds belonging to the Indian cormorants are similar, there is no specific name given to each of them. They are known by their given names or their scientific names.

What would you call a baby Indian cormorant?

A baby Indian cormorant is referred to as a chick like any other baby bird.

What do they eat?

A Cormorant's food of choice includes water snakes, fish, eels, and other small aquatic creatures. Their eggs are, however, a frequent prey of predators like gulls, eagles, raccoon dogs, and foxes.

Are they dangerous?

The Cormorants as a bird species are physically not dangerous to human beings but are harmful through other activities. They belong to a section of birds who destroy vegetation, poison the ground with their guano, and can spread diseases.

Would they make a good pet?

The bird is a migratory species and as such, keeping one as a pet would not be a good decision as it will never be able to live the life that it desires and would remain sad.

Did you know...

The name Cormorant is derived from two Latin words, Corvus, and Marinus, which means a sea raven or sea crow. Similarly, its species name is derived from the Greek words phalakros meaning bald, and korax meaning raven, together meaning a bald raven.

Another interesting fact about the bird is how it secretes a type of oil to keep its short feathers waterproof.

Different types of cormorant

A total of three different types of cormorant species are available in India. These are the Indian cormorant, the Little cormorant, and the great cormorant. Similarities in their choice of habitats and other behavioral characteristics are inevitable but they do possess differences amongst one another. These can be the difference in the shape of their heads, colors, flight positions, and plumages. The little cormorant usually has a small head compared to the other two while the color differentiation in three of the changes is according to their growth and breeding habits. As for the flight positions, the Little cormorant has the fastest flight rate while the others do not. They have different plumages according to their juvenile growth period.

What are the special features of Indian cormorants?

One of the most special features of an Indian cormorant is that they are expert divers with many of them achieving great depths, as much as 150 ft (45 m) deep in waters. Their webbed feet help them achieve this underwater feat which also helps them during their hunts for food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these swallow-tailed kite facts and Nicobar pigeon facts for kids.

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

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