Fun Great Cormorant Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 17, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
Great cormorant facts about a unique bird species.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Great cormorants are birds that are native to North America. These North American birds generally live in colonies, whether it be during the non-breeding season or the breeding season.

The colonies are stronger and consist of a family of cormorants during nesting season. Their nests can be reused for successive breeding seasons. Adult birds reach maturity for breeding when they are three years old.

Their geographic range includes islands, rocky headlands in New England, lakes, seas, and rivers in North America, South Africa, and other sites around the world. Due to their widespread population, their status of conservation is not under threat right now. However, these are migratory birds that change their location seasonally.

Keep on reading for more information on this North American bird's nest sites, feathers, rocky habitats, food, and conservation. For more similar content, check out Guam Rail and Birds of Paradise.

Great Cormorant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great cormorant?

Great cormorants are a type of North American bird.

What class of animal does a great cormorant belong to?

The North American great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) belongs to the class of Aves.

How many great cormorants are there in the world?

The latest reports of the population of great cormorants suggest that there are around 1,400,000-2,100,000 great cormorants around the world. Speaking of individual nations, China hosts around 1000 great commorants in winter, and so does Korea.

Korea is also home to around 100 to 10,000 pairs of great commorants who mate. On the other hand, Japan has over 10,000 migrant great cormorants. Russia hosts 1000 to 10,000 migratory great cormorants and also breeding pairs whose numbers range from 10,000 to 100,000.

Where does a great cormorant live?

A great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) prefers to reside in green lands. Continents, where great cormorants live, include Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Great cormorants reside in subcontinents such as South Asia, Western Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia within the continent of Asia.

In Africa, they can be seen in the northern and sub-Saharan parts. They can also be found in the Caribbean islands. Great commorants are found in most countries around the world.

What is a great cormorant's habitat?

Tropical, temperate, arid, and cold climates are inhabited by great cormorants. Great cormorants can be found in grasslands and forests (both mixed and broadleaf) of temperate zones as a result of this.

These birds can also be found in montane grasslands as well as montane shrublands. In the Mediterranean, great cormorants have been spotted in woodlands, scrubs, and forests.

In contrast, when it comes to tropical regions, these birds can be observed in wet forests and savanna. They live near water bodies like rivers and the sea so that it is easy to acquire food.

Who does great cormorant live with?

Great cormorants are very social. These birds generally live in colonies or groups. Each colony or group may host as many as 4000 birds. During the mating season, these birds form huge nesting colonies with pairs numbering up to 20 to 200.

How long does a great cormorant live?

The average lifespan of this bird from North America in the wild is up to 15 years. The age of the longest-living great cormorant was 22 years old.

How do they reproduce?

Great cormorants are monogamous when it comes to breeding and mating. Both genders of this bird species attain sexual maturity at around three years of age.

To attract a female bird for breeding, an adult male waves its wings with the tips of his wings turned outwards and upwards. While doing this, male birds keep on showing and hiding a white patch on their thighs. After a breeding pair forms, both males and females tilt back their heads and give out a gargling sound.

Generally, a female bird lays eggs between April and June. Eggs that are usually laid later in the year stand a chance of being abandoned. Females lay one to seven greenish-blue eggs per clutch in their nest site.

The incubation period for these birds is 28 to 31 days. Both parents feed and look after the baby birds.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has listed these birds as Least Concern since their numbers are not deteriorating. Their population is increasing with each passing day. They can be seen almost all over the world and are quite common to spot. This means there is no threat to their population as of now.

Great Cormorant Fun Facts

What do great cormorants look like?

The great cormorant from the order Suliformes, family Phalacrocoracidae, are big birds. They have a long neck and their wings are long too. Their wings extend 51.2-63.0 in (130-160 cm).

Their bodies are adorned with a plumage of feathers. Adults are blackish and they have a patch of yellow close to their necks. One of their distinct features is their webbed feet which also makes them great swimmers.

A great cormorant on the branch of a dead tree.

How cute are they?

Great cormorant birds do not exactly fall under the category of cute. These are big birds with long beaks. They are more likely to look fierce rather than cute.

How do they communicate?

Pairs of great cormorants (both males and females) have different calls. Males of this species are usually the louder ones.

The various calls of this bird include calls that are given out by them when they sense danger, calls during landing, hopping calls, and gargling sounds.

They even make sounds when they entwine their necks with one another. Apart from communicating through sounds, they can also communicate through the display of visual acts.

These come in handy during the nesting season to demarcate their territories. Great cormorants do this by taking a piece of nesting material from their nests with their beaks and giving it a shake.

Another visual act that is displayed as a warning sign is when the bird is in a lateral position with its tail completely fanned, but the wings not so much.

In addition to these, they also open their mouths and engage in a side-to-side movement of the neck and the head. This movement of the head is coupled with a shriek and a rough call in males and a muffled call in females.

How big is a great cormorant?

The great cormorant measures around 27.5-40 in (70-102 cm) in length. It has a wingspan of 51.2-63.0 in (130-160 cm). It is more than double the size of a pigeon.

How fast can a great cormorant fly?

The bird has an average flight speed of 33.5 mph (54 kph).

How much does a great cormorant weigh?

The great cormorant weighs around 6-8 lb (2.6-3.7 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male great cormorant is called a cock, while a female great cormorant is called a hen.

What would you call a baby great cormorant?

A baby great cormorant is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The main prey of these birds of North America is fish. The size of the fish is generally small, however, they can occasionally eat larger fish.

They prefer fish swimming near the surface of the water, but they also prey on bottom-dwelling fish. This species can also dive into the water and swim underwater to eat smaller fish.

They can feed on a variety of species of fish which may differ according to the geographic range, but normally these birds prefer to consume local fish.

This species of cormorant drink saltwater and excrete the excess salt with the use of their salt glands. Cormorants are species that fish and hunt either in a group or alone, depending on their habitat.

Are they dangerous?

No record shows that cormorants are dangerous to humans. However, they are extremely dangerous to fish. Due to this species, there is a depletion in the number of fish which is further affecting the ecosystem.

This species of bird poses a threat to trout and salmon. The double-crested cormorant, a cousin of the great cormorant, is a species found in abundance in the Great Lakes region. This double-crested cormorant poses a threat to the fish population in the region.

Would they make a good pet?

No, great cormorants do not make good pets. Their feces have been known to have a foul odor, like most other aquatic birds. Moreover, it is illegal to own a great cormorant in most parts of the world.

Did you know...

What makes the great cormorants so special is the fact that they are exceptional at diving into the water despite being birds.

Natural predators of cormorants include raccoons and foxes when these birds are on the ground. Eggs and young birds can be at risk of being eaten by bigger birds like crows, seagulls, and eagles.

Great cormorants nest in colonies. A common nest site of these birds can be found in trees, near lakes, and ditches that are flooded with water. During the breeding season, their nests can also be found near coasts situated around low-hanging cliffs.

How many fish can a cormorant eat in a day?

Great cormorants can eat around 25 to 30 fish in a day. In contrast, a double-crested cormorant is a species known to consume around 1 lb (454g) of fish daily.

How fast can a cormorant swim?

Cormorants have a swimming speed of 3.7-5.5 mph (6-9 kph).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the royal penguin or common buzzard.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our great cormorant bird coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj Tripathi picture

Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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