Cormorants live by the water

A Little Black Cormorant dries its wings out.

Birds in our World with Keith Ireland

Cormorants are water birds that live at both inland and coastal waters. There are five members of the group that live in Australia.

They have long necks and hooks on the end of their beaks. Their colours are either all black or pied eg black and white.

Their way of feeding, which takes place in the water, is by diving under the surface and. after, coming ashore to hold their wings out to the side to dry them out. This is shown in the illustration of the Little Black Cormorant.

The largest member of the group is the Great Cormorant which grows to over 90cm in length. It is all black in colour with a yellowish face and beak. It is found all over Australia except for the drier areas in the centre of Western Australia.

One member that is not anywhere near our region is the Black-faced Cormorant which is found along the southern coastline. This bird nests on rocks that are above the high watermark.

In our area, large numbers of Little Black Cormorants can be found all over, as well as throughout the majority of the country. This bird is mainly inland and sometimes huge flocks can be seen moving through waterway such as lagoons, feeding as they go. The group can make a number of sweeps through the water, going backwards and forwards in a feeding frenzy.

The Little Pied Cormorant is similar in size to the Little Black at around 65cm. It is also often seen in our community waters and is probably the best known to us of all the Cormorants.

The final member of the group is the black and white Pied Cormorant which is widespread throughout most of the eastern states. It has a distinctive orange spot in front of its eyes.