The Little Black Cormorant is mainly found in freshwater wetlands, but will sometimes be found on sheltered coastal waters. Photo: Contributed.
The Little Black Cormorant is mainly found in freshwater wetlands, but will sometimes be found on sheltered coastal waters. Photo: Contributed.

The little bird that can swim like a fish

The little black cormorant is a small, slim, totally black cormorant with a greenish sheen to the back and a slender grey hooked bill.

In the breeding season, adults have fine white flecks on the head and neck and the green tinge becomes more bronze. They also have a bright blue eye.

This species congregates in larger flocks than other cormorants and flies in V-shaped formations.

The little black cormorant is mainly found in freshwater wetlands, but will sometimes be found on sheltered coastal waters.

It is strongly aquatic, seldom being seen on dry land, but is often seen resting on rocks, jetties and other perches in water.

It feeds on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.

It catches prey underwater, by diving and swimming using its large, fully webbed feet for propulsion.

They will often feed in large groups when they fly over one another to herd the fish into shoals and then it is easier to pick them off one by one.

Sometimes they will co-operate with other birds such as Pelicans to catch fish.

It has special nictitating membranes (transparent third eyelids) that cover and protect the eyes underwater.

As their feathers are not waterproof, cormorants are regularly seen perched with their wings outstretched to dry after fishing.

They nest in colonies, often on the fringes of heron or ibis colonies, building large stick nests in the fork of a tree or on the ground.

Both sexes share nest-building, incubation and feeding of the young.

When feeding the young bird will thrust its head down the parent's throat in order to reach the fish held in the crop.

A colony of 350 were seen in the Botanic Gardens earlier this year and they are also present at Baldwin Enviro Park and at Moore Park Wetlands Reserve.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, you can contact him with your bird questions at allan Briggs abriggs@irock.com.au