Pygmy Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pygmeus

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The pygmy cormorant has a somewhat patchy distribution in the Eurasian Palaearctic and is unfortunately a very rare visitor to Germany. It is much smaller than a cormorant, about the size of a common coot. Its plumage is blackish brown with a brown to green metallic sheen, the head is rufous in colour. The tail is long and wedge-shaped, the bill distinctive: short and thick, with a hooked tip. Its feet are webbed. Its adult plumage consists of fine white decorative feathers on the head, neck and underside. Pygmy cormorants are social birds. They breed in large colonies, often sharing habitats with herons, egrets and spoonbills, on trees, bushes or in reeds. The annual clutch consists of 4 to 6 eggs. The altricial chicks hatch after about 24 to 30 days and are fledged after about 70 days. However, they remain with the parent birds even longer. The pygmy cormorant is found both on the coasts and inland on large, fish-rich waters. It can live equally well in fresh, brackish and salt water. These consummate divers feed exclusively on a diet of fish. During dives, the plumage soaks up water, which reduces buoyancy. Therefore, after leaving the water, pygmy cormorants also shake their plumage like other cormorants and typically let it dry with wings spread.

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