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4

Little Pied Cormorant

(Microcarbo [Phalacrocorax] melanoleucos)
Alternate name(s): "Frilled Shag", "Little Black-and-white Shag", "Little Black-and-white Cormorant"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "melanoleucos": "kokoko" (WA)

Size: 58-64 cm; wing span 84-92 cm
Weight: 490-830 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Little Pied Cormorant at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "melanoleucos"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Little Pied Cormorant drying its wing feathers
[Narrabri, NSW, August 2012]

Frontal view of a Little Pied Cormorant that appeared to be burping (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, August 2015]

Near-frontal view of a Little Pied Cormorant
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, June 2009]

Near-dorsal view of a Little Pied Cormorant (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, NSW, February 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Little Pied Cormorant
[Iluka Bluff, Bundjalung NP, NSW, May 2014]

Dorsal view of a Little Pied Cormorant
[Manilla, NSW, July 2010]

Dorsal view of a Little Pied Cormorant drying its plumage (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[Glen Iris wetlands, Melbourne, February 2013]

Lateral view of a Little Pied Cormorant in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Oh, sh...! Little Pied Cormorant caught in a somewhat compromising position (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Frontal view of a Little Pied Cormorant in captivity resting (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an adult Little Pied Cormorant (right) and an immature bird (left); note that the immature bird (identifiable by the black patch around its eye) is bigger than the adult
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Immature Little Pied Cormorant sitting on a horizontal branch
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

The same Little Pied Cormorant as shown above, now seen preening
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Immature Little Pied Cormorant drying its wings
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2009]

Good view of the fully webbed feet of an immature Little Pied Cormorant (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: 27 - 28 days Fledging age: 56 - 70 days

 

The breeding season depends significantly on geographical latitude. In the tropical north Little Pied Cormorants breed Jan - Apr. Given the right conditions, they can breed any time of the year. They breed in colonies, together with other aquatic birds.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, bark, lined with leaves Height above ground: 3 - 20 m

 

Colony of Little Pied Cormorants nesting in a dead tree in a major storage dam; also seen in the lower left corner are two nesting pairs of Little Black Cormorants
[Split Rock Dam, near Manilla, NSW, August 2008]

Little Pied Cormorant on its nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

"Change of the guard" at a Little Pied Cormorant nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

A few days after the photos above were taken, first one tiny head appeared below the adult Little Pied Cormorant... (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

... then two tiny Little Pied Cormorants peeked over the edge of the nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Clear view of at least two Little Pied Cormorant chicks; while the chicks are young and vulnerable one parent will always stay in the nest to protect them against heat/sunlight and predators (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

Later only one chick was left in the nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

One last feed at the nest, then it fledged too (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, March 2015]

Example of Little Pied Cormorants nesting in a loose colony with other species, in this case Australasian Darters (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 48 x 33 mm Colour: Light blue, with chalky white coating Shape: Tapered oval

Frontal view of a Little Pied Cormorant above two eggs in its nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Lateral view of a Little Pied Cormorant above two eggs in its nest (photo courtesy of D. Albertson, LTIM Gwydir Wetlands)
[Gwydir Wetlands, 50 km West of Moree, NSW, February 2015]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Little Pied Cormorants were seen by us diving and hunting in a pack, proceeding through shallow water in a bow-shaped configuration.

Even a water surface as small as the pool at the base of a (small) waterfall is enough for a bird to try its luck.

Little Pied Cormorant waiting for intruders to disappear...
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

... before going back to the important business of hunting
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Little Pied Cormorant swimming out of reeds into the open water of a freshwater lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Hunting under water, Little Pied Cormorants are one of the bird species that can regularly be seen drying their plumage sitting on a perch in bright sunlight.

Australasian Darters and Little Pied Cormorants drying their plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Road Wetlands, Brisbane, QLD, September 2017]

Food, Diet

Like most other members of the Phalacrocorax family, Little Pied Cormorants feed partly on fish; however, as opposed to other species of cormorants, they specialise in catching crustaceans. If there is a chance of catching yabbies, Little Pied Cormorants will visit even small dams, including the one at our place at Eulah Creek, 20 km East of Narrabri, NSW.

This Little Pied Cormorant has caught itself a meal - the prey looks like the tail of a yabbie
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

Yabby caught in a trap

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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