Fun Flightless Cormorant Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Flightless Cormorant Facts For Kids

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Birds that cannot fly! We always imagine that the Aves are flying high in the sky. But, instead, here we present to you a flightless seabird which is semiaquatic, passive on the shores, that lost its ability to fly over time.

The Flightless cormorant scientifically known as Phalacrocorax harrisi belongs to the genus Phalacrocorax. This cormorant's existence was bought to light by Charles Darwin. It is a blackish-brown bird. It is the largest and bulkiest cormorant, the only bird of this genus that cannot fly. Instead, it jumps on land from one rock to another. The cormorants Phalacrocorax population are endemic to the Fernandina and the Isabela islands on either side of the volcanic Galapagos of the Pacific Ocean Ecuador. Though the Flightless cormorant range is limited and its population size is small, they breed quickly to compensate for the disasters. The eggs of these animals incubate for 35 days.

If the above content has engaged and interests you, keep reading for more! We have fascinating facts on the Great cormorant and Ring-billed gull too.

Fun Flightless Cormorant Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Fish, small octopus, eels, rockfish, sea snakes

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3 eggs

How much do they weigh?

5.5-11 lb (2.5-5 kg)

How long are they?

35-39.5 in (89-100 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black and brown

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Dogs, Cats, Rats

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them?

Wetlands, And Coastal Waters, Rocky Shores


Galapagos Islands, Republic Of Ecuador









Flightless Cormorant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a flightless cormorant?

The Flightless cormorant of the genus Phalacrocorax is a bird. These are aquatic birds of the Phalacrocorax family.

What class of animal does a flightless cormorant belong to?

The cormorant bird Phalacrocorax harrisi is a bird. It belongs to Aves class.

How many flightless cormorants are there in the world?

According to the IUCN, the population size of these unique cormorant birds is 1602, existing as 700-800 pairs in 100 colonies.

Where does a flightless cormorant live?

The rarest bird, the Galapagos cormorant, is solely endemic to the volcanic Galapagos Islands of Pacific Ecuador, Isabela on the west coast and north coast, and Fernandina.

What is a flightless cormorant's habitat?

The Flightless cormorant habitat is the rocky shores along the coastal waters of the Galapagos Islands. They can dive 252 ft deep into the oceans but usually limit to 33-50 ft.

Who do flightless cormorants live with?

The Galapagos flightless cormorant is a social bird. It lives in colonies of pairs.

How long does a flightless cormorant live?

These Flightless cormorant birds survive a lifespan of 13 years in their range.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of this Flightless cormorant Galapagos is between March and September. There would be adequate food around this time of the year where the environment is usually freezing. They nest during this time for the best survival rate of the chicks.

The courtship involves an unusual behavior between these birds, where males and females attract by swimming around each other with their necks peculiarly bent in snake-like posture in the sea waters.

Once the breeding pair is formed, they move back to the land. The male presents seaweeds to the female to embed these things in the heavy nest. These birds nest in colonies of 12 pairs. The female lays two to three eggs. Both males and females take care by incubating the eggs for 35 days. The parents take turns, and crude grunts indicate the changeover, and they continue to safeguard the newborn chicks further. Once the chicks are 70 days old, the female leaves them to the care of the male and establishes courtship with another male. The females can breed three times a year.

What is their conservation status?

The Galapagos cormorant conservation status is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN red list. Though there are no specific predators, these Galapagos flightless are gradually affected by the introduction of cats, dogs, and pigs to these islands after the invasion of humans to this cormorant species habitat.

This bird of Galapagos Islands has a restricted range which is also a significant reason for vulnerable status. The fishing of their marine diet, unwanted oil spilling into the sea or ocean waters are also considerable threats. Environmental hazards like volcanoes, the El Niño temperature phenomenon also impact the population of the Flightless cormorants.

Flightless Cormorant Fun Facts

What do flightless cormorants look like?

The Flightless cormorant is a large bird with a chubby body. At first glance, these animals look similar to ducks. The only difference is that their wings are fat and short. In addition, their uppercut is blackish, and the flipper side is brown. They have a long beak and turquoise-colored eyes. Their four toes are affixed by webbed skin. The male and female look akin, but the males are larger and 35% heavier than the females. The chicks have bare skin, but they develop their black skin rapidly.

Their counter and flight feathers are similar to that of other cormorants but are softer, denser, thicker.

Their oil or preen glands produce very little oil that accounts for it getting trapped in their dense feathers and causes waterlogging. Hence their wings are not waterproof. In addition, the carina on their breastbone is substantially shortened.

Phalacrocorax harrisi is a funny majestic cormorant that cannot fly.

How cute are they?

These large chubby birds with turquoise eyes are pretty enduring fearless birds. It is funny to look at these Flightless cormorants that spread their wings not to fly but to dry the water in their feathers.

How do they communicate?

They are social yet silent, with low growling sounds while resting and nesting. While mating, they display unusual behavior where their necks bend like snakes.

How big is a flightless cormorant?

The Galapagos flightless is the heaviest and most significant among all the species of cormorants Phalacrocorax. It can be more than nine times in weight and two times in length as a regular cormorant bird.

Can a flightless cormorant fly?

The Phalacrocorax hirassi is the only cormorant bird species that cannot fly.

How much does a flightless cormorant weigh?

The weight of this Galapagos flightless cormorant is between 5.5-11 lb.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no particular names for the male and female species. This cormorant species' male and female birds are called male Flightless cormorant and female Flightless cormorant.

What would you call a baby flightless cormorant?

The baby Flightless cormorants are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

These Galapagos Ecuador birds dive into waters for marine food like rockfish, eels, and sea snakes. In addition, they seek out small octopuses and squid at the bottom of the sea. The national park is working hard to protect the Flightless cormorants in the two islands of Galapagos.

Are they dangerous?

The Flightless cormorant family is not dangerous as they cannot fly and cannot be so quick at attacking. There are no known instances of these unique cormorant birds being aggressive or threatening to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Though this bird of the Galapagos Islands is exceptionally adorable and funny, the Vulnerable status of these species does not permit the pet trade.

Did you know...

Though the wings do not provide the bird with the ability to fly, they provide the Galapagos cormorant the balance required to jump from one rock to another.

The wings of this Galapagos cormorant are one-third of the actual size required to fly.

When evolution plays a stringent role in reducing the organ in a creature, that organ is attributed as a vestigial organ. Thus, for the Galapagos cormorant, wings are vestigial organs.

Fishing reduces their food, and there are fair chances that the bird gets trapped in the net and gets killed.

After each dive in the water, this Galapagos bird moves back to land and spread its wings to dry them.

Why did the flightless cormorant lose its ability to fly?

The ancestral family of these birds traveled to these islands and started establishing breeding colonies. Then, and slowly, with the convenience and advantage of the habitat, these birds felt the advantage of no predators and marine food near the Galapagos.

This bird, ever since its evolution in the Galapagos islands, had sufficient food through its diving skills, and due to no threat from predators, it never had to make an effort to fly from its residence. This tendency the birds developed became a part of these cormorants' genetic anatomy. Thus the bird lost its flight. Gradually the feathers of the wings became shorter, denser with less oil production.

The cormorant's keel or extension of the breastbone is not as long as required for flight. Yet, these animals have a few large muscles linked to them, which provides the bird with the ability to spread the wing.

Cormorant vs flightless cormorant

As the name itself hints, the primary difference is the Flightless cormorants cannot fly like other cormorants, but there are other similarities and differences too. All the cormorants are good swimmers. This Flightless species' webbed feet and powerful legs are similar to other cormorants. The flightless cormorants have excellent diving skills when compared to others. Their wings are shorter, thicker, denser, and softer. And their feathers do not produce enough oil, so they are not waterproof. As they do not fly so, they do not migrate as well. Of the 29 species, this bird happens to be the heaviest and most prominent.

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 Nicobar pigeon fun facts and pelican interesting facts pages.

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

Written By
Kidadl Team

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