061 (Great) Cormorant
(Phalacrocorax carbo )


77-94cm. The Great Cormorant is large, with long, thick neck. Head profile rather wedge-shaped and angular, bill strong. In flight superficially goose-like, but told by incidence of brief glides breaking active flight, by slightly shallower wingbeats, longer tail, kinked neck, and less orderly flock formation; also bill and tail held rather high. Single birds often fly low over the water. Swims with body low and bill pointing up. Adult: Black with bluish and some green gloss, wings tinged bronze and scaled black. Bare skin at base of lower mandible yellow, surrounded by white area. A white thigh patch is worn in early breeding season only. Crown and hindneck with varying amount of white feathers, on average more on old birds, much of these white feathers lost during summer. In winter less glossy, and white on cheeks and throat becomes duller and less clear-cut.


The Great Cormorant is fairly common breeder in Hungary, increasing both in population and range. Its largest colonies are in groves along the Kis-Balaton, the Dráva, Danube and Tisza Rivers, as well as on the wetlands of Hortobágy and Lake Tisza. Since visits waters rich in fish in flocks, it can cause considerable damage on fishponds. Migrant. Is within breeding range by February or March. Masses of birds arriving from the Baltic region join the population of the Carpatian Basin, and the majority stays to overwinter, primarily on the Danube.

061 (Great) Cormorant pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008