Phalacrocorax melanoleucos Click to enlarge image
Little Pied Cormorant, drying wings 16.1 Image: N Chaffer
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    melanoleucos
    Genus
    Phalacrocorax
    Family
    Phalacrocoracidae
    Order
    Pelecaniformes
    Class
    Aves
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    50 cm to 66 cm

The Little Pied Cormorant is one of the most common of Australia's waterbirds, occurring on water bodies of almost any size.

Identification

The Little Pied Cormorant is entirely black above and white below. The face is dusky and, in adult birds, the white of the underside extends to above the eye. Immature birds resemble the adults except there is no white above the eye.

Habitat

The Little Pied Cormorant is at home in either fresh or salt water. It is often seen in large flocks on open waterways and on the coast, especially where large numbers of fish are present. On inland streams and dams, however, it is often solitary. The Little Pied Cormorant mixes readily with the similarly sized Little Black Cormorant, P. sulcirostris.

Distribution

The Little Pied Cormorant is found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

Little Pied Cormorants feed on a wide variety of aquatic animals, from insects to fish. On inland streams and dams they turn to their most favoured food: yabbies (freshwater crayfish). These are caught by deep underwater dives with both feet kicking outward in unison. Other crustaceans are also taken, with shrimps being a large part of their diet in winter months.

Breeding behaviours

Little Pied Cormorants breed either in colonies or, less commonly, in single pairs. The nest is a flat platform of sticks, lined with green leaves and is usually placed in a tree. Both adults share in egg incubation and care of the young.

  • Clutch size: 3 to 4

References

  • Lindsey, T.R. 1986. The Seabirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife Sydney.