Cormorants is a large genus of birds that is included in the family of cormorants, and has 35 species. Cormorant large is one of the full species of this numerous genus.
All of these birds are excellent divers and use underwater both the legs and the wings. Despite their excellent skills, they are often referred to as one of the most stupid feathered representatives. And although this is a controversial statement, it is sometimes possible to observe how, for example, crows steal eggs of cormorants. They usually do it in pairs - one crow distracts the cormorant, forcing it to leave the nest, and the second grabs the prey and flies away with it.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
The appearance of the great cormorant
The weight of this rather large bird with black plumage varies between 2.5 and 3.5 kg. There are also larger individuals reaching 5 kg. The length of the body of these birds varies from 70 cm to one meter, and the wingspan is on average 120 - 160 cm.
The tail of the birds is long. Against the background of black plumage, casting a greenish tint, a pale brown beak stands out brightly with a light yellow spot in the lower part.
The tip of the beak of the cormorant is bent down, and sometimes white feathers can be seen on the head and neck of the bird. Fully black legs, greenish skin and no feathers around the eyes also belong to its features.
Great cormorants have an interesting “coloring” of the head.
Young members of this species who have not yet reached puberty are easily recognized by their light brown color and white feathers on their belly. The plumage of a bird is water-repellent.
Where dwells Great Cormorant
Cormorant large is found in almost all corners of the globe. Its habitats in the North Atlantic include areas from Iceland and Britain all the way to the Kola Peninsula. You can also meet a bird in Canada, Central Asia, Europe, Africa and northern Kazakhstan. In addition to these regions, the cormorant lives in China and Japan, New Zealand and Australia, and even flies to Greenland. In Europe alone, this species has about 1.2 million individuals. And only about 3 million representatives of this species live on the planet.
Cormorants can fly over water for a long time in search of fish.
Lifestyle of Great Cormorants
Great Cormorant prefers to be sedentary, especially in the middle lane. The tendency to migrate is manifested only in birds, who chose to live in the northern and southern regions of the planet.
During the spring nesting birds form huge colonies, in which sometimes there are thousands of cormorants. For the device nests birds choose water bodies - the coast, rivers and lakes. The main condition is the presence of fish.
Great Cormorant prefers to nest in trees, but not having such, it can nest on rocky shores, in thickets of bushes and on flat land areas.
Food Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant eats mainly fish. But since it destroys it in large numbers, including in fishing areas and in fish farms, they often chose to shoot this bird. Currently, there is a ban on its extermination.
In complete safety, cormorant feels great only in Northern Norway, where it is believed that the souls of dead sailors move in these birds, thanks to which the birds are in sacred status.
Reproduction of cormorants
As for the rest of the birds, the main thing for cormorants is procreation. These birds form their pairs for life, the maximum duration of which is up to 17 - 20 years.
Cormorants are caring parents.
In the construction of the nest involved both parents. Great Cormorant lays eggs in late April or early May. With its size, the egg corresponds to a matchbox - in a clutch they are usually 4 - 5. The cormorant incubates the chicks for a month. Toddlers are born without feathers and blind.
The large cormorant bird leaves the nest at the age of two months. Juveniles immediately go to the water to feed, but on the wing only becomes closer to the end of the third month of life. As soon as this happens, the birds gather in flocks and leave their homes. The plumage of young cormorants changes gradually, becoming black with a greenish tint only after four years. Puberty occurs at the same time, and the birds form pairs and nest along with the older ones.
Description of cormorant and photo.
Cormorants resemble ducks in size, their body length reaches 50-100 cm, wingspan is from 80 to 160 cm. Males are usually larger than females. The plumage varies with age, in young representatives it is of brown shades, lighter, darker with age, acquiring a black color with a metallic or bluish tint. This description is suitable for most species, but some species are distinguished by white spots on the head or belly, or by the presence of a tuft. The appearance of the cormorant eloquently indicates that these birds are excellent anglers. Cormorants have an elongated body, a long neck, a thin and long beak, pointed at the end and similar in shape to a fishing hook. The beak is distinguished by its ability to open unusually widely, which allows cormorants to swallow large enough fish. Thanks to the powerful paws laid back, which are equipped with membranes, birds such as cormorants swim and dive perfectly. Cormorants have hoarse voices, their cries are like moans or deaf caws.
Types of cormorants.
The cormorant genus includes more than 30 subspecies: migratory and sedentary, marine species and freshwater:
- Indian Cormorant,
- Bering Cormorant,
- Crested Cormorant,
- Red-faced Cormorant,
- Small spotted cormorant and others.
Among the many species of cormorants in nature there is one of the rarest species - white cormorant. This species of birds has a white or grayish plumage and is born even less often than the white crows.
Where does the cormorant live?
Cormorants live in both cold and hot climates. They inhabit coastal areas, coasts of lakes and rivers, and some birds can even inhabit swamps. Thus, cormorants are found all over the globe. On the territory of Russia there live 6 species of these birds (large, Japanese, crested, Bering, red-faced and small), among which the most numerous is the Great Cormorant. It is also common in Eurasia. Rare species can be called crested and small cormorants, which are listed in the Red Book of Russia.
What do cormorants eat?
Basically, the diet of cormorants includes small or medium-sized fish: capelin, anchovy, herring, sardine. However, they do not disdain clams, crayfish, frogs, sea insects, sea turtles and even snakes. In search of food, they are able to dive to a depth of 15 meters and stay under water for about 2 minutes. The eyes of these birds have a transparent, blinking membrane, which makes them excellent divers. During the day the bird can eat almost half a kilo of fish.
Character and way of life
The cormorants active during the daytime sleep at night. Depending on the place of residence, these birds can lead both sedentary and migratory. It all depends on the weather and climatic features of the territory occupied. They are collective animals. This behavior allows you to provide yourself with a special level of security. Living in groups provides protection from predators, which makes it more likely to raise offspring. They prefer to nest in numerous groups, occupying territories adjacent to other birds and animals. They, for example, are not at all confused by the neighborhood of gulls, penguins or sea lions.
The family nest itself is more often located on higher ground. For example - tops of trees or tops of coastal cliffs. More rarely - right on the plane of the coast. Building material is everything that comes across cormorant "arm in arm". Basically it is the branches and leaves.
Cormorants are amazing fishermen and swimmers. They are able to stay under water for up to two minutes. They have a great reaction, these birds jump into the water as quickly and efficiently as possible, without creating unnecessary bursts, noise and waves. Moreover, they dive equally well, both from the shore and from the sea. They are also cunning. Cormorants can drive fish to shoal in flocks, after which each one can make out what they like.
How many cormorants live
Previously, residents of coastal areas, seeing the agility of cormorants in the extraction of fish, decided that they could use it for their own purposes.. To this end, the cormorants caught a narrow ring with a long rope around their necks. Bird tied so that she could not escape, but continued to hunt. The cormorant still, following instinct and hunger, caught fish, but could not swallow it because of an interfering ring, after which it had to be released from its beak. At the moment, such cruelties in the treatment of these birds is not observed. But, the age of one of the chain-pinned cormorants was recorded as the most long-lived and amounted to 20 years.
If we talk about which country is the homeland or the main haven for cormorants - to answer this question is difficult. They inhabit almost the entire globe, including they can be found on the territory of the Russian Federation. Sea coasts do not frighten cormorants with either scorching heat or wading cold. At present, there are as many as six species in our country, among which the most common is the Great Cormorant.
It is interesting! The bird is also common throughout Australia, with the exception of coastal mangroves and tropical rainforests. It also inhabits the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Fish - the main and favorite food of all cormorants. Basically, these are medium-sized varieties - herring, sardine and capelin. Do not shun a hungry cormorant and a frog with a snake. They can hunt whole mobs. Given that an adult eats about half a kilogram of fresh fish a day, they are rather unpleasant neighbors for human settlements, because they bring great damage to fish farms and ordinary fishermen.
Reproduction and offspring
Sedentary species begin to search for the second half from May. Migratory - fly to the nesting site already with the selected satellites for breeding. It is believed that cormorants are monogamous and are able to live in a pair all their life with one companion. After the nest has been improved, the female begins to lay eggs. In the laying gradually - one egg in 2-3 days, about 6 eggs are laid. After incubation, weak and helpless chicks appear, desperately in need of parental care up to six months of age.
It is interesting! Caring cormorants in the hot season do not fly out of the nest during the day. They cover their babies from the scorching sun with their wings, laying out wet algae on the nest so that the chicks more easily survive high temperatures.
They hunt during such periods only in the morning and in the evening, and feed the babies by regurgitation with processed food. Both mother and father can be engaged in feeding. Sometimes the bird is dependent on the parents until fully matured - 2-4 years, until they acquire their own family. With plumage, chicks naked from birth, become covered by 30-80 days of life. The color of their feathers before maturity changes several times. Often these are 3 colors - marriage, second and mature.
For large adult cormorants, other animals are not dangerous.. However, their small defenseless chicks often become victims of coyotes, raccoons and foxes. The crows are considered to be the worst enemies of the cormorant, and they are trying to pull eggs out of the nest, sometimes with the same purpose gulls and starlings
Population and species status
Despite the large distribution of these birds, there are among them endangered species. For example, 2 species of individuals are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. These are small and crested cormorants. These animals are very trusting, which is why their eggs often become prey to sly ravens and gulls.
Birds belong to the pelican-like. They have large paws with swimming membranes between the fingers, like all waterfowl species. The body of cormorants is quite large, ranging in size from 50 centimeters to one meter. Wings in scope are 80-160 cm.
They have a large body, an elongated neck and a long, slightly curved and pointed at the end, beak. They usually raise their heads slightly. On land, they sit in an upright position, while the neck is bent and retracted. Birds swim and fly quickly, and on the shore they move slowly, waving from one foot to the other.
The color of cormorants is predominantly black. Feathers have a metallic sheen, shimmer in the sun with gold or green shades. Some species have white spots on the chest and abdomen, others have greyish plumage. The color of cormorants in chickens is light brown and changes as they mature. Sex differences practically do not appear externally. But males are usually larger in size.
Species and habitats
Cormorant can be found in hot tropical areas and in cold subarctic areas. This is a typical inhabitant of reservoirs. The bird is spread all over the planet. It inhabits the shores of continents and distant islands, is found near rivers, lakes and swamps.
In Russia, inhabits a large, small, crested, Japanese, Bering and red-faced. Big in life is often called the Black Sea cormorant. He is a frequent guest of the southern coast of Crimea and Sochi, but also of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. They grow up to 90 cm. The color is black, the neck and head are sometimes gray.
Bering cormorant is more "fearless" and settles in cold regions. It is found in Alaska, the Kuriles, the Aleutian Islands, in the north of the Japanese Islands, Chukotka and Sakhalin. Adult birds have a brilliant black plumage with green and purple tint, black beak, with red bare skin around. On the head is the crest.
Galapagos Cormorant is the largest member of the family. It grows from 90 to 100 cm. But its wings are much shorter than those of other representatives of cormorants. Their length is absolutely not enough to lift a bird into the air, so the Galapagos cormorant is the only one who cannot fly. He lives only on two Galapagos Islands - Isabella and Fernandina.
Little cormorants are more modest in comparison with other members of the genus. They are almost half the size of the great cormorants. The length of their body is only 48 cm, and the wingspan is 80 cm. These are the smallest birds in the genus.
In small cormorants there are several typical outfits that they need for different occasions: downy outfit, nesting, first and second mating outfits, post-marital winter outfit. After reaching puberty, the plumage changes twice a year. Adult birds have black plumage with a pronounced metallic luster and bright markings. In the mating season, these marks become even more visible, acquiring a drop-like shape. The color of the plumage on the head and neck is reddish brown. The beak of small cormorants is noticeably shorter than in other closely related species.
In the Red Book of Russia
The Little Cormorant is one of those species that may already completely disappear tomorrow from the wild nature of Russia. There are many reasons for this. The fact is that the food supply available to the small cormorants is gradually and steadily decreasing. Fish in water bodies is becoming less and less, and the level of environmental pollution only increases every year. The change in the hydrological regime of rivers negatively affects the numbers. Exposed to birds and direct destruction.
Fishermen consider cormorants to be their competitors, and to compete with man for any living creature is a real feat. The cormorants also suffer from the press of natural predators: marsh moons and crows. On a global scale, the fate of the species is developing more successfully. Despite the fact that the small cormorant is included in the International Red List, it has been assigned the status of “the least threatened”, since its number is gradually being restored. In Russia, small cormorants are subject to protection in the Astrakhan reserve.
Cormorants are one of the main producers of guano - naturally decomposed bird droppings. This is a very valuable nitrogen-phosphorus organic fertilizer, the demand for which exists throughout the world. Guano mining is especially thriving on the coasts of Peru, where the layer of this substance can reach 50 m. Here, the most common representative of the cormorant genus and, therefore, the main producer of guano is the Bougainville cormorant (Phalacrocorax