Little Cormorant

Little Cormorant

(Microcarbo niger)

Size(48-52cm): As the name suggests, it is the smallest Cormorant that can be found in India.

Area: Widespread resident over much of the region except the Trans-Himalayas

Habitat: Lakes, ponds, river and estuaries. Basically any water body.

My two words: A very common sighting across much of India. Can be easily spotted around any water source where there is enough to fish for and live.

Like all other Cormorants, this specific Cormorant has a black plumage. The breeding plumage is pure glossy black overall with some white spots on the face. The non-breeding plumage is browner and the bird develops a white patch around the throat.

In Non-Breeding Plumage (with Checkered Keelback Snake)

Both the sexes are alike.

They generally forage in loose groups with the birds scattered over a great area but can often be found foraging alone.

They diet includes chiefly of Fish.

They swim underwater to catch fish and bring them up to the surface to relish it. They can be very commonly seen sitting wings open on a perch in or around the water source. This they do to dry their wings which become drenched after every hunt. This also provides rest and some time to properly digest food and also make them ready for flight or the next hunt.

Breeding season differs across the region. It is November-February in S India, July-September in N India. Males display at the nesting site by fluttering their wings and their head back and bill are kept raised.

They often nest in a colony with Pond Herons and Egrets. The eggs take 15-20 days to hatch. The chicks usually take upto a month to fledge after which they are able to leave the nest.

These birds are generally silent but sometimes produce a kok-kok-kok in flight or when flushed.

Listed under ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this bird is fairly abundant across India

~Arjun Basandrai

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