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Cormorant with wings outstretched


Phalacrocorax carbo

All about cormorant

The magnificent cormorant is a year-round resident of the Solent. With its gothic black silhouette, it has a primitive, almost reptile-like appearance with its wings described as ‘like a broken umbrella hung out to dry’.⠀

You’ll often spot them around the coast perched on a bank or post, wings out-stretched to dry off after fishing. Cormorant plumage isn’t waterproofed which makes it easier for them to dive deep and fast in the water – as far as 40 metres down. They feed on fish which they catch with their long, hook-tipped bills.⠀

Cormorants nest on low cliffs near the coast, or in colonies in trees. They lay 3-4 eggs which take about a month to hatch and then it’s another couple of months before the chicks fledge.

The name cormorant is thought to originate from the Latin words Corvus and Marinus meaning ‘sea crow’.⠀

Cormorants and shags are very similar to look at and very tricky to tell apart: the terms are often interchanged in species in other countries.⠀

Local spotlight

Cormorant are fairly common on the Solent: the UK as a whole holds internationally important numbers of them in the winter.

Conservation status

Cormorant are green listed in the UK

Comorant might not be listed in the Solent’s Special Protection Areas but they are important for the coastal ecosystem and form part of the waterbird assemblages for which these regions are protected.

Did you know?

In 2006, one island colony off the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine recorded nearly 15,000 cormorant nests.