Cormorants are pretty widespread across the globe and are found in most tropical and temperate regions. They are easily recognizable by their habit of sitting in the sun with wings outspread. this is because Cormorant wings are not water resistant which gives them better performance under water. However, the cost of trying to fly with wet wings is high so getting them dry as soon as possible has obvious advantages.
There are in the region of 40 different species with one being flightless, the Flightless Cormorant of the Galapalos Islands.
Cormorants consume mainly fish and are able to stay underwater for over a minute. smaller fish are swallowed underwater and larger ones are brought to the surface to be turned head first and swallowed. When the Cormorant swims ion the surface, only its neck and head protrudes.
Cormorants breed in colonies where building materials are often stolen from undefended nests. Nests can be on the ground or in trees. 1 to 4 eggs are laid but the number could be as high as 7. Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch at 25 to 28 days. Chicks leave the nest at 3 to 4 weeks. they can fly from about 6 weeks and are diving from 7. Chicks are completely independent at 10 weeks old.
Our chicks will be mature enough to breed at 2 years and can live for up to 25 years.
Cormorant eggs and chicks are predated on by eagles, gulls, crows and when the nests are on the ground they also have foxes and raccoons to contend with.
Ancient civilizations used cormorants fishing ability to their advantages. Today, although no longer popular, this system can still be found in China.
Birds wear a collar and are able to swallow smaller fish but larger ones are removed from their throat when returning to the boat.
Cormorants have an unusual habit which is similar to the owls in that it creates pellets of scales and bones which are coughed up!