Cormorant
Overview
 
The bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Phalacrocoracidae is represented by some 40 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of cormorants and shags. Several different classifications of the family have been proposed recently, and the number of genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 is disputed.
There is no consistent distinction between cormorants and shags. The names "cormorant" and "shag" were originally the common names of the two species of the family found in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, Phalacrocorax carbo (now referred to by ornithologists as the Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

) and P.
Encyclopedia
The bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Phalacrocoracidae is represented by some 40 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of cormorants and shags. Several different classifications of the family have been proposed recently, and the number of genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 is disputed.

Names

There is no consistent distinction between cormorants and shags. The names "cormorant" and "shag" were originally the common names of the two species of the family found in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, Phalacrocorax carbo (now referred to by ornithologists as the Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

) and P. aristotelis (the European Shag). "Shag" refers to the bird's crest, which the British forms of the Great Cormorant lack. As other species were discovered by English-speaking
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 sailors and explorers elsewhere in the world, some were called cormorants and some shags, depending on whether they had crests or not. Sometimes the same species is called a cormorant in one part of the world and a shag in another, e.g., the Great Cormorant is called the Black Shag in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 (the birds found in Australasia
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 have a crest that is absent in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an members of the species). Van Tets
Gerard Frederick van Tets
Gerard Frederick van Tets , otherwise known as Jerry van Tets, was a twentieth century English ornithologist and paleontologist. Born in London on 19 January 1929, he became a member of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1958 and studied at the University of British Columbia, obtaining his PhD...

 (1976) proposed to divide the family into two genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 and attach the name "Cormorant" to one and "Shag" to the other, but this flies in the face of common usage and has not been widely adopted.

The scientific genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 name is latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ized Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, from φαλακρός (phalakros, "bald") and κόραξ (korax, "raven"). This is often thought to refer to the creamy white patch on the cheeks of adult Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

s, or the ornamental white head plumes prominent in Mediterranean birds of this species, but is certainly not a unifying characteristic of cormorants. "Cormorant" is a contraction
Contraction (grammar)
A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters....

 derived either directly from Latin corvus marinus, "sea raven" or through Brythonic Celtic. Cormoran
Cormoran
Cormoran , also recorded as Cormilan, Cormelian, Gormillan, or Gourmaillon, was a legendary Cornish giant said to live in a cave on St Michael's Mount and terrorize the people of Penwith . He is best known as the first giant killed by Jack in the fairy tale "Jack the Giant Killer"...

 is the Cornish
Cornish folklore
Cornish folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in Cornwall. There is much traditional folklore in Cornwall, often tales of giants, mermaids, Bucca, piskies or the 'pobel vean' These are still surprisingly popular today, with many events hosting a 'droll teller' to tell the stories:...

 name of the sea giant in the tale of Jack the Giant Killer
Jack the Giant Killer
"Jack the Giant Killer" is a British fairy tale about a plucky lad who slays a number of giants during King Arthur's reign. The tale is characterized by violence, gore, and blood-letting. Giants are prominent in Cornish folklore and Welsh Bardic lore, but the source of "Jack the Giant Killer" is...

. Indeed, "sea raven" or analogous terms were the usual terms for cormorants in Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 until after the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The French explorer André Thévet
André Thévet
André de Thevet was a French Franciscan priest, explorer, cosmographer and writer who travelled to Brazil in the 16th century...

 commented in 1558 that "...the beak [is] similar to that of a cormorant or other corvid," which demonstrates that the erroneous belief that the birds were related to ravens lasted at least to the 16th century.

The word cormorant is pronounced ˈkɔrmərənt, with the stress on the first syllable.

Characteristics

Cormorants and shags are medium-to-large seabird
Seabird
Seabirds are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same environmental problems and feeding niches have resulted in similar adaptations...

s. They range in size from the Pygmy Cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant
The Pygmy Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south, mostly within in its breeding range...

 (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus), at as little as 45 cm (18 in) and 340 g (12 oz), to the Flightless Cormorant
Flightless Cormorant
The Flightless Cormorant , also known as the Galapagos Cormorant, is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands, and an example of the highly unusual fauna there. It is unique in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly...

 (Phalacrocorax harrisi), at a maximum size 100 cm (40 in) and 5 kg (11 lb). The recently-extinct Spectacled Cormorant
Spectacled Cormorant
The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka...

 (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus) was rather larger, at an average size of 6.3 kg (14 lb). The majority, including nearly all Northern Hemisphere species, have mainly dark plumage
Feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

, but some Southern Hemisphere species are black and white, and a few (e.g. the Spotted Shag
Spotted Shag
The Spotted Shag or Parekareka, Phalacrocorax punctatus, is a species of cormorant endemic to New Zealand. Originally classified as Phalacrocorax punctatus, it is sufficiently different in appearance from typical members of that genus that to be for a time placed in a separate genus, Stictocarbo,...

 of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

) are quite colourful. Many species have areas of coloured skin on the face (the lore
Lore (anatomy)
The Lore is the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird's head. This region is sometimes featherless, and the skin may be tinted, as in many species of the cormorant family. This area, which is directly in front of the eye, features a "loral stripe" in many bird species including the...

s and the gular skin
Gular skin
Gular skin , in ornithology, is an area of featherless skin on birds that joins the lower mandible of the beak to the bird's neck....

) which can be bright blue, orange, red or yellow, typically becoming more brightly coloured in the breeding season. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet have webbing between all four toes, as in their relatives.

They are coastal rather than oceanic birds, and some have colonised inland waters - indeed, the original ancestor of cormorants seems to have been a fresh-water bird, judging from the habitat of the most ancient lineage. They range around the world, except for the central Pacific islands.

All are fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

-eaters, dining on small eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

s, fish, and even water snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s. They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Under water they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorant species have been found, using depth gauge
Depth gauge
A depth gauge is a pressure gauge that displays the equivalent depth in water. It is a piece of diving equipment often used by SCUBA divers.Most modern diving depth gauges have an electronic mechanism and digital display. Older types used a mechanical mechanism and analogue display.A diver uses a...

s, to dive to depths of as much as 45 metres.

After fishing, cormorants go ashore, and are frequently seen holding their wings out in the sun. All cormorants have preen gland secretions that are used ostensibly to keep the feathers waterproof. Some sources state that cormorants have waterproof feathers while others say that they have water permeable feathers. Still others suggests that the outer plumage absorbs water but does not permit it to penetrate the layer of air next to the skin. The wing drying action is seen even in the flightless cormorant but commonly in the Antarctic shags and red-legged cormorants. Alternate functions suggested for the spread-wing posture include that it aids thermoregulation, digestion, balances the bird or indicates presence of fish. A detailed study of the Great Cormorant concludes that it is without doubt to dry the plumage.

Cormorants are colonial nesters, using trees, rocky islets, or cliffs. The egg
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

s are a chalky-blue colour. There is usually one brood a year. The young are fed through regurgitation
Regurgitation (digestion)
Regurgitation is the expulsion of material from the mouth, pharynx, or esophagus, usually characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood.Regurgitation is used by a number of species to feed their young...

. They typically have deep, ungainly bills, showing a greater resemblance to those of the pelican
Pelican
A pelican, derived from the Greek word πελεκυς pelekys is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae....

s', to which they are related, than is obvious in the adults.

Systematics

The cormorants are a group traditionally placed within the Pelecaniformes
Pelecaniformes
The Pelecaniformes is a order of medium-sized and large waterbirds found worldwide. As traditionally—but erroneously—defined, they encompass all birds that have feet with all four toes webbed. Hence, they were formerly also known by such names as totipalmates or steganopodes...

 or, in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy
Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy
The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy is a bird taxonomy proposed by Charles Sibley and Jon Edward Ahlquist. It is based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s....

, the expanded Ciconiiformes
Ciconiiformes
Traditionally, the order Ciconiiformes has included a variety of large, long-legged wading birds with large bills: storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, and several others. Ciconiiformes are known from the Late Eocene...

. This latter group is certainly not a natural one, and even after the tropicbird
Tropicbird
Tropicbirds are a family, Phaethontidae, of tropical pelagic seabirds now classified in their own order Phaethontiformes. Their relationship to other living birds is unclear, and they appear to have no close relatives. There are three species in one genus, Phaethon...

s have been recognized as quite distinct, the remaining Pelecaniformes seem not to be entirely monophyletic. Their relationships and delimitation - apart from being part of a "higher waterfowl" clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 which is similar but not identical to Sibley and Ahlquist's "pan-Ciconiiformes" - remain mostly unresolved. Notwithstanding, all evidence agrees that the cormorants and shags are closer to the darter
Darter
The darters or snakebirds are mainly tropical waterbirds in the family Anhingidae. There are four living species, three of which are very common and widespread while the fourth is rarer and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN. The term "snakebird" is usually used without any additions to...

s and Sulidae
Sulidae
The bird family Sulidae comprises the gannets and boobies. Collectively called sulidas, they are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish and similar prey. The ten species in this family are often considered congeneric in older sources, placing all in the genus Sula...

 (gannets and boobies), and perhaps the pelican
Pelican
A pelican, derived from the Greek word πελεκυς pelekys is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae....

s and/or even penguin
Penguin
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers...

s, than to all other living birds.

In recent years, three preferred treatments of the cormorant family have emerged: either to leave all living cormorants in a single genus, Phalacrocorax, or to split off a few species such as the Imperial Shag
Imperial Shag
The Imperial Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps, is a black and white cormorant native to many subantarctic islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and southern South America, primarily in rocky coastal regions, but locally also at large inland lakes. It is sometimes placed in the genus Leucocarbo instead...

 complex (in Leucocarbo) and perhaps the Flightless Cormorant
Flightless Cormorant
The Flightless Cormorant , also known as the Galapagos Cormorant, is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands, and an example of the highly unusual fauna there. It is unique in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly...

. Alternatively, the genus may be disassembled altogether and in the most extreme case be reduced to the Great
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

, White-breasted
White-breasted Cormorant
The White-breasted Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the Great Cormorant, in which case it is referred to as Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus. However some authorities The White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax lucidus) is a...

 and Japanese Cormorant
Japanese Cormorant
The Japanese Cormorant , also known as Temminck's Cormorant, is a cormorant native to East Asia. It lives from Taiwan north through Korea and Japan to the Russian Far East....

s.

Pending a thorough review of the Recent and prehistoric cormorants, the single-genus approach is followed here for three reasons: First, it is preferable to tentatively assigning genera without a robust hypothesis. Second, it makes it easier to deal with the fossil forms, the systematic treatment of which has been no less controversial than that of living cormorants and shags. Third, this scheme is also used by the IUCN, making it easier to incorporate data on status and conservation. In accordance with the treatment there, the Imperial Shag complex is here left unsplit as well, but the King Shag complex has been.

Several evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

ary groups are still recognizable. However, combining the available evidence suggests that there has also been a great deal of convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

; for example the "cliff shags" are a convergent paraphyletic group. The proposed division into Phalacrocorax sensu stricto (or subfamily Phalacrocoracinae) "cormorants" and Leucocarbo sensu lato (or Leucocarboninae) "shags" does indeed have some degree of merit - though not as originally intended - but fails to account for basal lineages and the fact that the entire family cannot be clearly divided at present beyond the superspecies
Superspecies
A superspecies is a group of at least two more or less distinctive species with approximately parapatric distributions. Not all species complexes, whether cryptices or ring species are superspecies, and vice versa, but many are...

 or species-complex level. The resolution provided by the mtDNA 12S rRNA and ATPase
ATPase
ATPases are a class of enzymes that catalyze the decomposition of adenosine triphosphate into adenosine diphosphate and a free phosphate ion. This dephosphorylation reaction releases energy, which the enzyme harnesses to drive other chemical reactions that would not otherwise occur...

 subunit
Protein subunit
In structural biology, a protein subunit or subunit protein is a single protein molecule that assembles with other protein molecules to form a protein complex: a multimeric or oligomeric protein. Many naturally occurring proteins and enzymes are multimeric...

s 6 and 8 sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

 data is not sufficient to properly resolve several groups to satisfaction; in addition, many species remain unsampled, the fossil record has not been integrated in the data, and the effects of hybridization - known in some Pacific species especially - on the DNA sequence data are unstudied.

Its traditional scientific name is the literal Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ized Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 equivalent of the common name: Phalacrocorax is an ancient term for cormorants; literally, it means "bald raven
Raven
Raven is the common name given to several larger-bodied members of the genus Corvus—but in Europe and North America the Common Raven is normally implied...

", from falakrós (φᾶλακρός, "bald") + kórax (κόραξ, "raven").

Species in HBW taxonomic sequence

This sequence follows the Handbook of the Birds of the World
Handbook of the Birds of the World
The Handbook of the Birds of the World is a multi-volume series produced by the Spanish publishing house Lynx Edicions. It is the first handbook to cover every known living species of bird. The series is edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal and David A Christie.So far, 15...

.
  • Double-crested Cormorant
    Double-crested Cormorant
    The Double-crested Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It occurs along inland waterways as well as in coastal areas, and is widely distributed across North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Florida and Mexico...

     or White-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
  • Neotropic Cormorant
    Neotropic Cormorant
    The Neotropic Cormorant or Olivaceous Cormorant is a medium-sized cormorant found throughout the American tropics and subtropics, from the middle Rio Grande and the Gulf and Californian coasts of the USA south through Mexico and Central America to southern South America. It also breeds on the...

     or Olivaceous Cormorant, Phalacrocorax brasilianus (or Phalacrocorax olivaceus)
  • Little Black Cormorant
    Little Black Cormorant
    The Little Black Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It is common in smaller rivers and lakes throughout most areas of Australia and northern New Zealand. It is around sixty centimetres long, and is all black with blue-green eyes.-References: Database entry includes...

    , Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
  • Great Cormorant
    Great Cormorant
    The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

     or Black Shag, Phalacrocorax carbo
  • White-breasted Cormorant
    White-breasted Cormorant
    The White-breasted Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the Great Cormorant, in which case it is referred to as Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus. However some authorities The White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax lucidus) is a...

    , Phalacrocorax lucidus
  • Indian Cormorant
    Indian Cormorant
    The Indian Cormorant or Indian Shag is a member of the cormorant family. It is found mainly along the inland waters of the Indian Subcontinent but extending west to Sind and east to Thailand and Cambodia...

    , Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
  • Cape Cormorant
    Cape Cormorant
    The Cape Cormorant or Cape Shag, Phalacrocorax capensis, is a bird endemic to the southwestern coasts of Africa.It breeds from Namibia south to southern Cape Province. In the nonbreeding season, it may be found as far north as the mouth of the Congo, and also extends up the east coast of South...

    , Phalacrocorax capensis
  • Socotra Cormorant
    Socotra Cormorant
    The Socotra Cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, is a threatened species of cormorant that is endemic to the Persian Gulf and the south-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also sometimes known as the Socotran Cormorant or, more rarely, as the Socotra Shag. Individuals occasionally...

    , Phalacrocorax nigrogularis
  • Bank Cormorant
    Bank Cormorant
    The Bank Cormorant, Phalacrocorax neglectus, also known as Wahlberg's Cormorant is a medium-sized cormorant that is endemic to Namibia and the western seaboard of South Africa, living in and around coastal waters; it is rarely recorded more than 15 km offshore.The Bank Cormorant is a...

     or Wahlberg's Cormorant, Phalacrocorax neglectus
  • Japanese Cormorant
    Japanese Cormorant
    The Japanese Cormorant , also known as Temminck's Cormorant, is a cormorant native to East Asia. It lives from Taiwan north through Korea and Japan to the Russian Far East....

     or Temminck's Cormorant, Phalacrocorax capillatus
  • Brandt's Cormorant
    Brandt's Cormorant
    The Brandt's Cormorant is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter...

    , Phalacrocorax penicillatus
  • Spectacled Cormorant
    Spectacled Cormorant
    The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka...

    , Phalacrocorax perspicillatus - extinct (c.1850)
  • European Shag or Common Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • Pelagic Cormorant
    Pelagic Cormorant
    The Pelagic Cormorant , also known as Baird's Cormorant, is a small member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Analogous to other smallish cormorants, it is also called Pelagic Shag occasionally...

     or Baird's Cormorant, Phalacrocorax pelagicus
  • Red-faced Cormorant
    Red-faced Cormorant
    The Red-faced Cormorant, Red-faced Shag or Violet Shag, Phalacrocorax urile, is a species of cormorant that is found in the far north of the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, from the eastern tip of Hokkaidō in Japan, via the Kuril Islands, the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Aleutian...

    , Phalacrocorax urile
  • Rock Shag
    Rock Shag
    The Rock Shag , also known as the Magellanic cormorant, is a marine cormorant found around the southernmost coasts of South America. Its breeding range is from around Valdivia, Chile, south to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego, and north to Punta Tombo in Argentina...

    , Phalacrocorax magellanicus
  • Guanay Cormorant
    Guanay Cormorant
    The Guanay Cormorant or Guanay Shag is a member of the cormorant family found in on the Pacific coast of Peru and northern Chile...

    , Phalacrocorax bougainvillii
  • Australian Pied Cormorant or Yellow-faced Cormorant, Phalacrocorax varius
  • Black-faced Cormorant
    Black-faced Cormorant
    The Black-faced Cormorant , also known as the Black-faced Shag, is a medium-sized member of the cormorant family. Upperparts, including facial skin and bill, are black, with white underparts. It is endemic to coastal regions of southern Australia.-Ecology:The Black-faced-Cormorant feeds largely on...

    , Phalacrocorax fuscescens
  • Rough-faced Shag or King Shag, Phalacrocorax carunculatus
  • Bronze Shag or Stewart Island Shag, Phalacrocorax chalconotus
  • Chatham Shag, Phalacrocorax onslowi
  • Auckland Shag
    Auckland Shag
    The Auckland Shag or Auckland Islands Shag is a species of cormorant from New Zealand. The species is endemic to the Auckland Islands archipelago. It is a sedentary bird that primarily eats various crustaceans and fish. In recent years, roughly 1,000 pairs have been recorded...

    , Phalacrocorax colensoi
  • Campbell Shag, Phalacrocorax campbelli
  • Bounty Shag, Phalacrocorax ranfurlyi
  • Imperial Shag
    Imperial Shag
    The Imperial Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps, is a black and white cormorant native to many subantarctic islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and southern South America, primarily in rocky coastal regions, but locally also at large inland lakes. It is sometimes placed in the genus Leucocarbo instead...

     or Blue-eyed Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps
    • White-bellied Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps albiventer
    • Antarctic Shag, Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis
    • South Georgia Shag, Phalacrocorax georgianus
    • Heard Island Shag, Phalacrocorax nivalis
    • Crozet Shag, Phalacrocorax melanogenis
    • Kerguelen Shag
      Kerguelen Shag
      The Kerguelen Shag is a species of cormorant endemic to the Kerguelen Islands. Many authorities consider it a subspecies of the Imperial Shag.-Range and habitat:...

      , Phalacrocorax verrucosus
    • Macquarie Shag
      Macquarie Shag
      The Macquarie Shag , Macquarie Island Shag or Macquarie Island Cormorant, is a marine cormorant native to Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean, about halfway between Australia and Antarctica....

      , Phalacrocorax purpurascens
  • Red-legged Cormorant
    Red-legged Cormorant
    The Red-legged Cormorant, Phalacrocorax gaimardi, also known as the Red-legged Shag, Red-footed Cormorant, Red-footed Shag, Gaimard’s Cormorant and Grey Cormorant, is a resident of the coastline of South America. It is non-colonial unlike most seabirds. The Red-legged Cormorant has not been...

     or Red-footed Shag, Phalacrocorax gaimardi
  • Spotted Shag
    Spotted Shag
    The Spotted Shag or Parekareka, Phalacrocorax punctatus, is a species of cormorant endemic to New Zealand. Originally classified as Phalacrocorax punctatus, it is sufficiently different in appearance from typical members of that genus that to be for a time placed in a separate genus, Stictocarbo,...

     Phalacrocorax punctatus
  • Pitt Cormorant or Featherstone's Shag Phalacrocorax featherstoni
  • Little Pied Cormorant
    Little Pied Cormorant
    The Little Pied Cormorant, Little Shag or Kawaupaka is a common Australasian waterbird, found around the coasts, islands, estuaries, and inland waters of Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and around the islands of the south-western Pacific and the sub-Antarctic...

    , Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
  • Reed Cormorant or Long-tailed Cormorant, Phalacrocorax africanus
  • Crowned Cormorant
    Crowned Cormorant
    The Crowned Cormorant, Microcarbo coronatus, is a small cormorant that is endemic to the waters of the cold Benguela Current of southern Africa. It is an exclusively coastal species and is always found at least 10 km away from land...

    , Phalacrocorax coronatus
  • Little Cormorant
    Little Cormorant
    The Little Cormorant is a member of the Cormorant family of seabirds: Aptly named, the Little Cormorant is small in comparison with other cormorants, only 55 cm in length with an average mass of 442.5 g...

    , Phalacrocorax niger
  • Pygmy Cormorant
    Pygmy Cormorant
    The Pygmy Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south, mostly within in its breeding range...

    , Phalacrocorax pygmaeus
  • Flightless Cormorant
    Flightless Cormorant
    The Flightless Cormorant , also known as the Galapagos Cormorant, is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands, and an example of the highly unusual fauna there. It is unique in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly...

    , Phalacrocorax harrisi

Species in phylogenetic sequence

This list attempts to follow a phylogenetic order. If the distinction into subfamilies would be upheld, the "blue-eyed" and related species would probably be the Leucocarboninae, and the groups that follow them the Phalacrocoracinae. The first two lineages (and possibly the Flightless Cormorant) are basal and cannot be assigned to either subfamily.

Basal lineage 1: "Microcormorants", proposed genus Microcarbo
Microcarbo
Microcarbo is a genus of fish-eating birds, known as cormorants, of the family Phalacrocoracidae. Until recently, this genus was often subsumed within Phalacrocorax....

or Halietor ("Phalacrocoracinae"); the former genus name would be valid.
Small, short-billed subtropical to tropical marine and freshwater species from the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. They have black feet and almost all lack significant white feathers. They often have a diminutive frontal tuft.
  • Little Pied Cormorant
    Little Pied Cormorant
    The Little Pied Cormorant, Little Shag or Kawaupaka is a common Australasian waterbird, found around the coasts, islands, estuaries, and inland waters of Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and around the islands of the south-western Pacific and the sub-Antarctic...

    , Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
  • Reed Cormorant, Phalacrocorax africanus
  • Crowned Cormorant
    Crowned Cormorant
    The Crowned Cormorant, Microcarbo coronatus, is a small cormorant that is endemic to the waters of the cold Benguela Current of southern Africa. It is an exclusively coastal species and is always found at least 10 km away from land...

    , Phalacrocorax coronatus
  • Little Cormorant
    Little Cormorant
    The Little Cormorant is a member of the Cormorant family of seabirds: Aptly named, the Little Cormorant is small in comparison with other cormorants, only 55 cm in length with an average mass of 442.5 g...

    , Phalacrocorax niger
  • Pygmy Cormorant
    Pygmy Cormorant
    The Pygmy Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south, mostly within in its breeding range...

    , Phalacrocorax pygmaeus


Basal lineage 2: Red-legged Cormorant. Included in Leucocarbo or Stictocarbo ("Leucocarboninae")
Pacific coast of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. This species apparently has no close living relatives. It has a highly apomorphic color pattern: naked red base of bill, red feet, and a white neck spot, and it is crestless. It seems to be convergent in some aspects with the punctatus superspecies. What seems sure by now is that this species must be placed in a distinct monotypic
Monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

 genus Poikilocarbo in almost any case, if any species are split from Phalacrocorax at all.
  • Red-legged Cormorant
    Red-legged Cormorant
    The Red-legged Cormorant, Phalacrocorax gaimardi, also known as the Red-legged Shag, Red-footed Cormorant, Red-footed Shag, Gaimard’s Cormorant and Grey Cormorant, is a resident of the coastline of South America. It is non-colonial unlike most seabirds. The Red-legged Cormorant has not been...

    , Phalacrocorax gaimardi


Blue-eyed shags and relatives: variously placed in Euleucocarbo, Hypoleucos, Leucocarbo, Notocarbo and Stictocarbo ("Leucocarboninae"), and the monotypic
Monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

 Nannopterum.
This reasonably well-supported marine clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 contains 3 lineages:
  1. One containing American species which are mainly black-footed, black-plumaged, and have yellow skin at the base of the bill as well as white display crests behind the eyes in breeding plumage. They occur in marine and freshwater habitats. The Flightless Cormorant of the Galápagos Islands
    Galápagos Islands
    The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a...

     also seems to belong here. Its wings have been reduced by evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

     to tiny size, it is extremely apomorphic due to its flightlessness, and its plumage is entirely nondescript. If considered a distinct genus, they would get the name Dilophalieus or (more probably) Nannopterum, the old genus of the Flightless Cormorant.
  2. The Rock Shag
    Rock Shag
    The Rock Shag , also known as the Magellanic cormorant, is a marine cormorant found around the southernmost coasts of South America. Its breeding range is from around Valdivia, Chile, south to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego, and north to Punta Tombo in Argentina...

     from southern South America with red skin at the bill base, pink feet, a frontal crest, and an apomorphic white ear-spot
  3. A group of numerous close-knit forms from southern Pacific and subantarctic
    Subantarctic
    The Subantarctic is a region in the southern hemisphere, located immediately north of the Antarctic region. This translates roughly to a latitude of between 46° – 60° south of the Equator. The subantarctic region includes many islands in the southern parts of the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and...

     waters which are white below with pink feet but otherwise quite varying in appearance. It contains the King and Imperial complexes and the Guanay Cormorant. Almost all have some amount of white on the upperwing coverts, frontal crests, and blue eye-rings. The crested shags with yellow warts in front of the eyes belong to this group. The genus name Leucocarbo would apply to either this group, or the entire clade.
    • Double-crested Cormorant
      Double-crested Cormorant
      The Double-crested Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It occurs along inland waterways as well as in coastal areas, and is widely distributed across North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Florida and Mexico...

       or White-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
    • Neotropic Cormorant
      Neotropic Cormorant
      The Neotropic Cormorant or Olivaceous Cormorant is a medium-sized cormorant found throughout the American tropics and subtropics, from the middle Rio Grande and the Gulf and Californian coasts of the USA south through Mexico and Central America to southern South America. It also breeds on the...

       or Olivaceous Cormorant, Phalacrocorax brasilianus
    • Flightless Cormorant
      Flightless Cormorant
      The Flightless Cormorant , also known as the Galapagos Cormorant, is a cormorant native to the Galapagos Islands, and an example of the highly unusual fauna there. It is unique in that it is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly...

      , Phalacrocorax harrisi
    • Rock Shag
      Rock Shag
      The Rock Shag , also known as the Magellanic cormorant, is a marine cormorant found around the southernmost coasts of South America. Its breeding range is from around Valdivia, Chile, south to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego, and north to Punta Tombo in Argentina...

      , Phalacrocorax magellanicus

  • Imperial Shag
    Imperial Shag
    The Imperial Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps, is a black and white cormorant native to many subantarctic islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and southern South America, primarily in rocky coastal regions, but locally also at large inland lakes. It is sometimes placed in the genus Leucocarbo instead...

     or Blue-eyed Shag, Phalacrocorax atriceps
    • White-bellied Shag, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) albiventer
    • Antarctic Shag, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) bransfieldensis
    • South Georgia Shag, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) georgianus
    • Heard Island Shag, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) nivalis
    • Crozet Shag, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) melanogenis
    • Kerguelen Shag
      Kerguelen Shag
      The Kerguelen Shag is a species of cormorant endemic to the Kerguelen Islands. Many authorities consider it a subspecies of the Imperial Shag.-Range and habitat:...

      , Phalacrocorax (atriceps) verrucosus
    • Macquarie Shag
      Macquarie Shag
      The Macquarie Shag , Macquarie Island Shag or Macquarie Island Cormorant, is a marine cormorant native to Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean, about halfway between Australia and Antarctica....

      , Phalacrocorax (atriceps) purpurascens
  • Guanay Cormorant
    Guanay Cormorant
    The Guanay Cormorant or Guanay Shag is a member of the cormorant family found in on the Pacific coast of Peru and northern Chile...

    , Phalacrocorax bougainvillii
  • Rough-faced Shag or King Shag, Phalacrocorax carunculatus
  • Bronze Shag, Phalacrocorax chalconotus
  • Chatham Shag, Phalacrocorax onslowi
  • Auckland Shag
    Auckland Shag
    The Auckland Shag or Auckland Islands Shag is a species of cormorant from New Zealand. The species is endemic to the Auckland Islands archipelago. It is a sedentary bird that primarily eats various crustaceans and fish. In recent years, roughly 1,000 pairs have been recorded...

    , Phalacrocorax colensoi
  • Campbell Shag, Phalacrocorax campbelli
  • Bounty Shag, Phalacrocorax ranfurlyi


North Pacific shags: spread between Compsohalieus ("Phalacrocoracinae") and Stictocarbo ("Leucocarboninae"). If a distinct genus, the former name would apply
A well-supported marine group ranging from the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

 to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. They are black-footed and have white ornamental plumes strewn about the head and neck in breeding plumage. They tend to have prominent double crests.
  • Brandt's Cormorant
    Brandt's Cormorant
    The Brandt's Cormorant is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter...

    , Phalacrocorax penicillatus
  • Spectacled Cormorant
    Spectacled Cormorant
    The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka...

    , Phalacrocorax perspicillatus - extinct (c.1850)
  • Pelagic Cormorant
    Pelagic Cormorant
    The Pelagic Cormorant , also known as Baird's Cormorant, is a small member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Analogous to other smallish cormorants, it is also called Pelagic Shag occasionally...

     or Baird's Cormorant, Phalacrocorax pelagicus
  • Red-faced Cormorant
    Red-faced Cormorant
    The Red-faced Cormorant, Red-faced Shag or Violet Shag, Phalacrocorax urile, is a species of cormorant that is found in the far north of the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, from the eastern tip of Hokkaidō in Japan, via the Kuril Islands, the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Aleutian...

    , Phalacrocorax urile


Common Shag lineage: formerly in Compsohalieus ("Phalacrocoracinae") and Stictocarbo ("Leucocarboninae")
Black-footed smallish marine shags of Europe and southern Africa. Wahlberg's Cormorant is very tentatively placed here; it seems anatomically more similar to the P. fuscscens, but the more informative characters - the combination of frontal crest and lack of extensive naked skin at bill base in mid-sized Old World species - seem to place it here. If this is correct, they are probably very distantly related due to biogeography
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

.
  • European Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • Bank Cormorant
    Bank Cormorant
    The Bank Cormorant, Phalacrocorax neglectus, also known as Wahlberg's Cormorant is a medium-sized cormorant that is endemic to Namibia and the western seaboard of South Africa, living in and around coastal waters; it is rarely recorded more than 15 km offshore.The Bank Cormorant is a...

    , Phalacrocorax neglectus - tentatively placed here


Indian Ocean group: spread between Hypoleucos and Leucocarbo ("Leucocarboninae") and Compsohalieus ("Phalacrocoracinae"). Hypoleucos would be the correct genus name if they were split off.
A group of black-footed species occurring in tropical coastal or inland habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

 between the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and Australia. Most species are tentatively assigned here, based on the combination of range, crestlessness, size, general lack of naked skin ornaments and the presence of some amount of white feathering in the ear region at least in breeding plumage. This clade is not too well supported, but this may be because the two presumed members included in recent research are quite dissimilar; the three unstudied ones are very similar to one or the other.
  • Little Black Cormorant
    Little Black Cormorant
    The Little Black Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It is common in smaller rivers and lakes throughout most areas of Australia and northern New Zealand. It is around sixty centimetres long, and is all black with blue-green eyes.-References: Database entry includes...

    , Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
  • Indian Cormorant
    Indian Cormorant
    The Indian Cormorant or Indian Shag is a member of the cormorant family. It is found mainly along the inland waters of the Indian Subcontinent but extending west to Sind and east to Thailand and Cambodia...

    , Phalacrocorax fuscicollis - tentatively placed here
  • Socotra Cormorant
    Socotra Cormorant
    The Socotra Cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, is a threatened species of cormorant that is endemic to the Persian Gulf and the south-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also sometimes known as the Socotran Cormorant or, more rarely, as the Socotra Shag. Individuals occasionally...

    , Phalacrocorax nigrogularis - tentatively placed here
  • Australian Pied Cormorant or Yellow-faced Cormorant, Phalacrocorax varius
  • Black-faced Cormorant
    Black-faced Cormorant
    The Black-faced Cormorant , also known as the Black-faced Shag, is a medium-sized member of the cormorant family. Upperparts, including facial skin and bill, are black, with white underparts. It is endemic to coastal regions of southern Australia.-Ecology:The Black-faced-Cormorant feeds largely on...

    , Phalacrocorax fuscescens - tentatively placed here


Spotted group: placed in Stictocarbo ("Leucocarboninae"); indeed, they would be the only members of this possibly distinct genus
A superspecies of the New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 region. Peculiarly apomorphic, with yellowish legs, prominent double crests, white ornamental plumes on the neck, a grey belly and spotted wings.
  • Spotted Shag
    Spotted Shag
    The Spotted Shag or Parekareka, Phalacrocorax punctatus, is a species of cormorant endemic to New Zealand. Originally classified as Phalacrocorax punctatus, it is sufficiently different in appearance from typical members of that genus that to be for a time placed in a separate genus, Stictocarbo,...

     Phalacrocorax punctatus
  • Pitt Cormorant or Featherstone's Shag Phalacrocorax featherstoni


Cape Cormorant: sometimes placed in Leucocarbo ("Leucocarboninae")
Highly plesiomorphic among its relatives; a species from the southern coasts of Africa. It is apparently close to the common ancestor of the next group and, perhaps apart from the all-black plumage, looks almost identical to that long-extinct bird.
  • Cape Cormorant
    Cape Cormorant
    The Cape Cormorant or Cape Shag, Phalacrocorax capensis, is a bird endemic to the southwestern coasts of Africa.It breeds from Namibia south to southern Cape Province. In the nonbreeding season, it may be found as far north as the mouth of the Congo, and also extends up the east coast of South...

    , Phalacrocorax capensis


True cormorants: these would be retained in Phalacrocorax no matter how the cormorants and shags are split up
They occur from the western Atlantic through the Old World into Australia, usually but not always in marine and temperate to subtropical habitat. They are characteristic, being large, with white cheek and thigh patches, ornamental plumes in the neck, a yellow naked bill base, black feet, and a shaggy nape crest.
  • Great Cormorant
    Great Cormorant
    The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

    , Phalacrocorax carbo
  • White-breasted Cormorant
    White-breasted Cormorant
    The White-breasted Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the Great Cormorant, in which case it is referred to as Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus. However some authorities The White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax lucidus) is a...

    , Phalacrocorax lucidus
  • Japanese Cormorant
    Japanese Cormorant
    The Japanese Cormorant , also known as Temminck's Cormorant, is a cormorant native to East Asia. It lives from Taiwan north through Korea and Japan to the Russian Far East....

    , Phalacrocorax capillatus

Evolution and fossil record

Cormorants seem to be a very ancient group, with similar ancestors reaching all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs. In fact, the very earliest known modern bird, Gansus yumenensis, had essentially the same structure, although it was not a cormorant per se. The details of the evolution of the cormorant are mostly unknown. Even the technique of using the distribution and relationships of a species to figure out where it came from, biogeography
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

, usually very informative, does not give very specific data for this probably rather ancient and widespread group. However, the closest living relatives of the cormorants and shags are the other families of the suborder Sulae—darter
Darter
The darters or snakebirds are mainly tropical waterbirds in the family Anhingidae. There are four living species, three of which are very common and widespread while the fourth is rarer and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN. The term "snakebird" is usually used without any additions to...

s and gannets and boobies
Sulidae
The bird family Sulidae comprises the gannets and boobies. Collectively called sulidas, they are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish and similar prey. The ten species in this family are often considered congeneric in older sources, placing all in the genus Sula...

—which have a primarily Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

n distribution. Hence, at least the modern diversity of Sulae probably originated in the southern hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

.

While the leucocarbonines are almost certainly of southern Pacific origin—possibly even the Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 which, at the time when cormorants evolved. was not yet ice-covered—all that can be said about the phalacrocoracines is that they are most diverse in the regions bordering the Indian Ocean, but generally occur over a large area.

Similarly, the origin of the family is shrouded in uncertainties. Some Late Cretaceous
Late Cretaceous
The Late Cretaceous is the younger of two epochs into which the Cretaceous period is divided in the geologic timescale. Rock strata from this epoch form the Upper Cretaceous series...

 fossils have been proposed to belong with the Phalacrocoracidae:

A scapula
Scapula
In anatomy, the scapula , omo, or shoulder blade, is the bone that connects the humerus with the clavicle ....

 from the Campanian
Campanian
The Campanian is, in the ICS' geologic timescale, the fifth of six ages of the Late Cretaceous epoch . The Campanian spans the time from 83.5 ± 0.7 Ma to 70.6 ± 0.6 Ma ...

-Maastrichtian
Maastrichtian
The Maastrichtian is, in the ICS' geologic timescale, the latest age or upper stage of the Late Cretaceous epoch or Upper Cretaceous series, the Cretaceous period or system, and of the Mesozoic era or erathem. It spanned from 70.6 ± 0.6 Ma to 65.5 ± 0.3 Ma...

 boundary, about 70 mya (million years ago), was found in the Nemegt Formation
Nemegt Formation
The Nemegt Formation is a geological formation dating from the Late Cretaceous sedimentary from the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. It overlies and sometimes forms folds with the Barun Goyot Formation. It consists of river channel sediments and contains fossils of fish, turtles, crocodilians, birds and a...

 in Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

; it is now in the PIN collection. It is from a bird roughly the size of a Spectacled Cormorant
Spectacled Cormorant
The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka...

, and quite similar to the corresponding bone in Phalacrocorax. A Maastrichtian
Maastrichtian
The Maastrichtian is, in the ICS' geologic timescale, the latest age or upper stage of the Late Cretaceous epoch or Upper Cretaceous series, the Cretaceous period or system, and of the Mesozoic era or erathem. It spanned from 70.6 ± 0.6 Ma to 65.5 ± 0.3 Ma...

 (Late Cretaceous
Late Cretaceous
The Late Cretaceous is the younger of two epochs into which the Cretaceous period is divided in the geologic timescale. Rock strata from this epoch form the Upper Cretaceous series...

, c.66 mya) right femur
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

, AMNH FR 25272 from the Lance Formation
Lance Formation
The Lance Formation is a division of Late Cretaceous rocks in the western United States. Named after Lance Creek, Wyoming, the microvertebrate fossils and dinosaurs represent important components of the latest Mesozoic vertebrate faunas...

 near Lance Creek, Wyoming
Lance Creek, Wyoming
Lance Creek is a census-designated place in Niobrara County, Wyoming, United States. The population was 51 at the 2000 census. Lance Creek is the namesake of the Lance Formation, a rock formation from the Late Cretaceous that has yielded fossils from a diverse number of species.-Geography:Lance...

, is sometimes suggested to be the second-oldest record of the Phalacrocoracidae; this was from a rather smaller bird, about the size of a Long-tailed Cormorant
Long-tailed Cormorant
The Reed Cormorant , also known as the Long-tailed Cormorant, is a bird in the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It breeds in much of Africa south of the Sahara, and Madagascar. It is resident but undertakes some seasonal movements.This is a common and widespread species, and is not considered to...

.

As the Early Oligocene "Sula" ronzoni cannot be assigned to any of the suloid families—cormorants and shags, darters, and gannets and boobies—with certainty, the best interpretation is that the Phalacrocoracidae diverged from their closest ancestors in the Early Oligocene, perhaps some 30 million years ago, and that the Cretaceous fossils represent ancestral suloids, "pelecaniforms" or "higher waterbirds"; at least the last lineage is generally believed to have been already distinct and undergoing evolutionary radiation
Evolutionary radiation
An evolutionary radiation is an increase in taxonomic diversity or morphological disparity, due to adaptive change or the opening of ecospace. Radiations may affect one clade or many, and be rapid or gradual; where they are rapid, and driven by a single lineage's adaptation to their environment,...

 at the end of the Cretaceous. What can be said with near certainty is that AMNH FR 25272 is from a diving bird that used its feet for underwater locomotion; as this is liable to result in some degree of convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

 and the bone is missing indisputable neornithine features, it is not entirely certain that the bone is correctly referred to this group.

During the late Paleogene
Paleogene
The Paleogene is a geologic period and system that began 65.5 ± 0.3 and ended 23.03 ± 0.05 million years ago and comprises the first part of the Cenozoic Era...

, when the family presumably originated, much of Eurasia was covered by shallow seas, as the Indian Plate finally attached to the mainland. Lacking a detailed study, it may well be that the first "modern" cormorants were small species from eastern, south-eastern or southern Asia, possibly living in freshwater habitat, that dispersed due to tectonic
Tectonics
Tectonics is a field of study within geology concerned generally with the structures within the lithosphere of the Earth and particularly with the forces and movements that have operated in a region to create these structures.Tectonics is concerned with the orogenies and tectonic development of...

 events. Such a scenario would account for the present-day distribution of cormorants and shags and is not contradicted by the fossil record; as remarked above, a thorough review of the problem is not yet available.

Two distinct genera of prehistoric cormorants are widely accepted today, if Phalacrocorax is used for all living species:
  • Limicorallus (Indricotherium middle Oligocene of Chelkar-Teniz, Kazakhstan)
  • Nectornis (Late Oligocene?/Early Miocene of C Europe - Middle Miocene of Bes-Konak, Turkey) - includes Oligocorax miocaenus


The proposed genus Oligocorax appears to be paraphyletic - the European species have been separated in Nectornis, and the North American ones are placed in the expanded Phalacrocorax. A Late Oligocene fossil cormoran foot from Enspel
Enspel
Enspel is an Ortsgemeinde – a community belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde – in the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.-Location:...

 (Germany), sometimes placed herein, would then be referable to Nectornis if it proves not to be too distinct. All these early European species might belong to the basal group of "microcormorants", as they conform with them in size and seem to have inhabited the same habitat: subtropical coastal or inland waters. Limicorallus, meanwhile, was initially believed to be a rail or a dabbling duck by some. There are also undescribed remains of apparent cormorants from the Quercy Phosphorites of Quercy
Quercy
Quercy is a former province of France located in the country's southwest, bounded on the north by Limousin, on the west by Périgord and Agenais, on the south by Gascony and Languedoc, and on the east by Rouergue and Auvergne....

 (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

), dating to some time between the Late Eocene and the mid-Oligocene
Oligocene
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 34 million to 23 million years before the present . As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are slightly...

.

Some other Paleogene
Paleogene
The Paleogene is a geologic period and system that began 65.5 ± 0.3 and ended 23.03 ± 0.05 million years ago and comprises the first part of the Cenozoic Era...

 remains are sometimes assigned to the Phalacrocoracidae, but these birds seem quite intermediate between cormorants and darters (and lack clear autapomorphies of either). Thus, they may be quite basal members of the Palacrocoracoidea. The taxa in question are:
  • Piscator (Late Eocene of England)
  • "Pelecaniformes" gen. et sp. indet. (Jebel Qatrani Early Oligocene of Fayum, Egypt) – similar to Piscator?
  • Borvocarbo (Late Oligocene of C Europe)


The supposed Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene
Early Pleistocene
Calabrian is a subdivision of the Pleistocene Epoch of the Geologic time scale. ~1.8 Ma.—781,000 years ago ± 5,000 years, a period of ~.The end of the stage is defined by the last magnetic pole reversal and plunge in to an ice age and global drying possibly colder and drier than the late Miocene ...

 "Valenticarbo
Valenticarbo
Valenticarbo is a supposed genus of extinct bird that lived during the Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene of South Asia. It contains only the type species, V...

"
is a nomen dubium
Nomen dubium
In zoological nomenclature, a nomen dubium is a scientific name that is of unknown or doubtful application...

and given its recent age probably not a separate genus.

The remaining species are, in accordance with the scheme used in this article, all placed in the modern genus Phalacrocorax:
  • Phalacrocorax marinavis (Oligocene ?-? Early Miocene of Oregon, USA) - formerly Oligocorax
  • Phalacrocorax littoralis (Late Oligocene/Early Miocene of St-Gérand-le-Puy, France) - formerly Oligocorax, might belong into Nectornis
  • Phalacrocorax intermedius (Early - Middle Miocene of C Europe) - includes P. praecarbo, Ardea/P. brunhuberi and Botaurites avitus
  • Phalacrocorax macropus (Early Miocene ?-? Pliocene of NW USA)
  • Phalacrocorax ibericus (Late Miocene of Valles de Fuentiduena, Spain)
  • Phalacrocorax lautus (Late Miocene of Golboçica, Moldavia)
  • Phalacrocorax serdicensis (Late Miocene of Hrabarsko, Bulgaria)
  • Phalacrocorax femoralis (Modelo Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of WC North America) - formerly Miocorax
  • Phalacrocorax sp. (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA)
  • Phalacrocorax longipes (Late Miocene - Early Pliocene of the Ukraine) - formerly Pliocarbo
  • Phalacrocorax goletensis (Early Pliocene ?-? Early Pleistocene of Mexico)
  • Phalacrocorax wetmorei (Bone Valley Early Pliocene of Florida)
  • Phalacrocorax sp. (Bone Valley Early Pliocene of Polk County, Florida, USA)
  • Phalacrocorax leptopus (Juntura Early/Middle Pliocene of Juntura
    Juntura, Oregon
    Juntura is an unincorporated community in Malheur County, Oregon, United States on U.S. Route 20. The word juntura is Spanish for "juncture", and the community was named for its proximity to the confluence of the Malheur River with its north fork. The name was probably selected by local settler B. L...

    , Malheur County
    Malheur County, Oregon
    Malheur County is a county located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is included in the eight-county definition of Eastern Oregon. Most of the county observes the Mountain Time Zone, although the southern quarter of the county observes the Pacific Time Zone along with the...

    , Oregon
    Oregon
    Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

    , USA)
  • Phalacrocorax idahensis (Middle Pliocene ?-? Pleistocene of Idaho, USA)
  • Phalacrocorax destefanii (Late Pliocene of Italy) - formerly Paracorax
  • Phalacrocorax filyawi (Pinecrest Late Pliocene of Florida, USA) - may be P. idahensis
  • Phalacrocorax kumeyaay (San Diego Late Pliocene of California)
  • Phalacrocorax macer (Late Pliocene of Idaho, USA)
  • Phalacrocorax mongoliensis (Late Pliocene of W Mongolia)
  • Phalacrocorax rogersi (Late Pliocene -? Early Pleistocene of California, USA)
  • Phalacrocorax kennelli (San Diego Pliocene of California)
  • Phalacrocorax sp. "Wildhalm" (Pliocene) - may be same as P. longipes
  • Phalacrocorax chapalensis (Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene of Jalisco, Mexico
  • Phalacrocorax gregorii (Late Pleistocene of Australia) - possibly not a valid species
  • Phalacrocorax vetustus (Late Pleistocene of Australia) - formerly Australocorax, possibly not a valid species
  • Phalacrocorax reliquus
  • Phalacrocorax sp. (Sarasota County, Florida) - may be P. filawyi/idahensis


The former "Phalacrocorax" (or "Oligocorax") mediterraneus is now considered to belong to the bathornithid Paracrax antiqua. "P." subvolans was actually a darter
Darter
The darters or snakebirds are mainly tropical waterbirds in the family Anhingidae. There are four living species, three of which are very common and widespread while the fourth is rarer and classified as near-threatened by the IUCN. The term "snakebird" is usually used without any additions to...

 (Anhinga).

Cormorant fishing


Humans have used cormorants' fishing skills, in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, where they have been trained by fishermen. A snare is tied near the base of the bird's throat, which allows the bird only to swallow small fish. When the bird captures and tries to swallow a large fish, the fish is caught in the bird's throat. When the bird returns to the fisherman's raft, the fisherman helps the bird to remove the fish from its throat. The method is not as common today, since more efficient methods of catching fish have been developed.

In Japan, cormorant fishing is called ukai (鵜飼). Traditional forms of ukai can be seen on the Nagara River
Nagara River
The has its source in the city of Gujō, Gifu Prefecture, and its mouth in the city of Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Along with the Kiso River and Ibi River, the Nagara River is one of the Kiso Three Rivers of the Nōbi Plain. Previously, the river was named Sunomata River . With a length of , it...

 in the city of Gifu
Gifu, Gifu
is a city located in the south-central portion of Gifu Prefecture, Japan, and serves as the prefectural capital. The city has played an important role in Japan's history because of its location in the middle of the country. During the Sengoku period, various warlords, including Oda Nobunaga, used...

, Gifu Prefecture
Gifu Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the Chūbu region of central Japan. Its capital is the city of Gifu.Located in the center of Japan, it has long played an important part as the crossroads of Japan, connecting the east to the west through such routes as the Nakasendō...

, where cormorant fishing
Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River
has played a vital role in the history of the city of Gifu, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Throughout its long history, it evolved from a means to live, to a profitable industry, to a major tourist draw...

 has continued uninterrupted for 1300 years, or in the city of Inuyama, Aichi
Aichi Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region. The region of Aichi is also known as the Tōkai region. The capital is Nagoya. It is the focus of the Chūkyō Metropolitan Area.- History :...

. In Guilin
Guilin
Guilin is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of far southern China, sitting on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means "forest of Sweet Osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city...

, China, cormorant birds are famous for fishing on the shallow Lijiang River
Lijiang River
The Li River or Lijiang River is a river in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China.-Background:The Li River originates in the Mao'er Mountains in Xing'an County and flows in the general southern direction through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle....

.

In Gifu, the Japanese Cormorant
Japanese Cormorant
The Japanese Cormorant , also known as Temminck's Cormorant, is a cormorant native to East Asia. It lives from Taiwan north through Korea and Japan to the Russian Far East....

 (P. capillatus) is used; Chinese fishermen often employ Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

s (P. carbo).

Cormorants in human culture

  • Cormorants feature quite commonly in heraldry
    Heraldry
    Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

     and medieval ornamentation, usually in their "wing-drying" pose, which was seen as representing the Christian
    Christian
    A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

     cross. For example, the Norwegian municipalities of Røst
    Røst
    Røst is a municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is part of the Lofoten traditional region. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Røst. Røst was separated from the municipality of Værøy on 1 July 1928.- Environment :...

    , Loppa
    Loppa
    Loppa is a municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Øksfjord. Loppa was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838...

     and Skjervøy
    Skjervøy
    Skjervøy is a municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Skjervøy on the island of Skjervøya, where most of the inhabitants live. The main industries are fishing and ship building....

     have cormorants in their coat-of-arms. The species depicted in heraldry is most likely to be the Great Cormorant
    Great Cormorant
    The Great Cormorant , known as the Great Black Cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, the Black Cormorant in Australia and the Black Shag further south in New Zealand, is a widespread member of the cormorant family of seabirds...

    , the most familiar species in Europe.
  • In the first speech of Love's Labour's Lost
    Love's Labour's Lost
    Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...

    , King Ferdinand of Navarre says: "When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,/The endeavor of this present breath may buy/That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge/And make us heirs of all eternity."
  • In 1853, a woman wearing a dress made of cormorant feathers was found on San Nicolas Island
    San Nicolas Island
    San Nicolas Island is the most remote of California's Channel Islands. It is part of Ventura County. The 14,562 acre island is currently controlled by the United States Navy and is used as a weapons testing and training facility, served by Naval Outlying Field San Nicolas Island...

    , off the southern coast of California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    . She had sewn the feather dress together using whale sinews. She is known as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas and was later baptized "Juana Maria
    Juana Maria
    Juana Maria , better known to history as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island , was a Native American woman who was the last surviving member of her tribe, the Nicoleño. She lived alone on San Nicolas Island from 1835 until her discovery in 1853...

    " (her original name is lost). The woman had lived alone on the island for 18 years before being rescued.
  • In addition to those mentioned above, the bird has inspired numerous writers, including Amy Clampitt
    Amy Clampitt
    -Life:Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920 of Quaker parents, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. In the American Academy of Arts and Letters and at nearby Grinnell College she began a study of English literature that eventually led her to poetry. She graduated from Grinnell College, and from...

    , who wrote a poem called "The Cormorant in its Element". Which species she was referring to is not obvious, since all members of the family share the characteristic behavioural and morphological features that the poem celebrates. The combination of "slim head [...] vermilion-strapped" and "big black feet" perhaps points at the Pelagic Cormorant
    Pelagic Cormorant
    The Pelagic Cormorant , also known as Baird's Cormorant, is a small member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Analogous to other smallish cormorants, it is also called Pelagic Shag occasionally...

    , which is the only species occurring in the temperate U.S. with these features.
  • The cormorant was the disguise used by Satan in Milton
    John Milton
    John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

    's Paradise Lost. The cormorant was significant as a symbol of "true Life/ Thereby regain’d," and was ironically used by Satan. Satan sat on top of the Tree of Life
    Tree of Life
    The tree of life in the Book of Genesis is a tree planted by God in midst of the Garden of Eden , whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality. Together with the tree of life, God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil . According to some scholars, however, these are in fact...

     as a cormorant in his first attempt to deceive and tempt Eve.
  • There is a cormorant portrayed in the first of the fictional paintings by Jane Eyre
    Jane Eyre
    Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published in London, England, in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. with the title Jane Eyre. An Autobiography under the pen name "Currer Bell." The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York...

     in Charlotte Bronte
    Charlotte Brontë
    Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards...

    's novel, representing Blanche Ingram.
  • The mythical Liver Bird
    Liver bird
    The Liver bird is the symbol of the city of Liverpool, England.-History:The earliest known use of a bird to represent the then-town of Liverpool was on its corporate seal, dating from the 1350s. The seal is now held by the British Museum. In 1668 the Earl of Derby gave the town council a mace...

    symbol of Liverpool is commonly thought to be a cross between an eagle and a cormorant.

External links

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