Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Cormorant
Cormorant - peak at back of crown (not at front like a shag's)
(Great Cormorant, Great Black Cormorant, Black Cormorant, Black Shag, Hiblin, Palmer, Skarf, Skarfie, Scarf, Scarfie,Billy Diver, Scart, Cormie, Parson, Mochrum Elders)
Photograph © Debbie Bozkurt
Vallay Strand - Benbecula - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
29th September, 2006
Our Cormorant and Shag photographs :
- Cormorant (Great Cormorant, Great Black Cormorant, Black Cormorant, Black Shag, Hiblin, Palmer, Skarf, Skarfie, Scarf, Scarfie,Billy Diver, Scart, Cormie, Parson, Mochrum Elders)
- Phalacrocorax carbo
- Gaelic: Sgarbh
- UK: AMBER LIST. Wintering 24,200 (of international importance). 9,018 Breeding. RSPB
- UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
- WI: Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs), and passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
- Breeds: Nests on cliffs, in trees, & inland. (Has nested on electricity pylons!) 3-4 eggs in nest of seaweed or twigs. Europe, Eurasia, Australasia, North America
- Winters: Northern birds migrate South to Africa, Asia & Southern US - anywhere with good fishing
- Habitat: Coastline, rocky shores, coastal lagoons, estuaries, reservoirs, larger lakes, gravel pits . Has habitual roosting areas to the extent their droppings can kill trees.
- Diet: Dives (20-30 seconds) to considerable depths, also often feeds in shallows. Often brings prey to the surface. Fish, eels
- Large (77-94 cm), conspicuous, black, fat-bodied, big-footed. Long thick, kinked neck (Shag's is straight). Longish tail. Yellow throat-patch. Bill greyish. Feet always dark. Adults white thigh patches in breeding season. ID from from Common Shag by it's larger size, heavier build, thicker bill, thicker neck, lack of crest. Angular hind-crown (Front of crown is peaked on shag).. Often have white underparts - 2yrs until all glossy black.
Adults Often seen standing with wings held out drying them. Can move it's eyes (most birds cannot)
- Typical lifespan 11yrs. Max recorded lifespan 26yrs 11mths
- Listen to a cormorant (RSPB site)
- Similar birds: Shag
A cormorant can unhinge it's beak at the base - which allows it to swallow a large fish whole (There is an instance of an 11 inch kitten found in the stomach of a cormorant - see Birds Brittanica)
Cormorants and shags hold their familiar pose with wings outstretched drying in the sunshine after fishing because their plumage is not waterproof.
The cormorant was nearly nearly hunted to extinction because fishermen feared the competition. Conservation efforts have since increased the bird's numbers. (Which worries some of the fishermen... ).
The Shag is more coastal than the Greater Cormorant which may be found on inland sites.
Shag are also approximately 4 times more abundant than the Greater Cormorant.
In North Norway it is believed good luck to have cormorants near your village. The legend is it that people who have died far out at sea, their bodies never returned to land, spend eternity on the island of Utrøst and can only visit their homes in the shape of cormorants.
Cormorant records in the Western Isles
Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs), and passage visitor (occurs in small numbers).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Cormorant is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section
Debbie's online photo album