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Species Guide
A photo of a Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmaeus)
Pygmy Cormorant

Pygmy Cormorant

Microcarbo pygmaeus

The Pygmy Cormorant, Microcarbo pygmaeus, is a diminutive member of the cormorant family, Phalacrocoracidae. This species is notably smaller than its relatives, the Great Cormorant and the Common Shag, with a length ranging from 64 to 78 centimeters. It possesses a slender build and a notably long tail, which distinguishes it from its larger cousins.

Identification Tips

When observing the Pygmy Cormorant, one should note its small stature and lighter build compared to other cormorants. Its long tail is a key characteristic, and it can often be seen perched in trees, presenting a silhouette that is less bulky than that of the Great Cormorant.


The Pygmy Cormorant favors wetlands rich in vegetation, such as lakes, river deltas, and flooded areas like rice fields where trees and shrubs are present. It tends to avoid mountainous, cold, and dry regions, showing a preference for lower altitudes and milder climates.


This bird's range extends from southeastern Europe, east of Italy, through southwestern temperate Asia to countries like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is a rare migrant to western Europe and is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south within its breeding range.


Pygmy Cormorants can be solitary or social, often forming groups. They have adapted to human presence and are known to hunt for fish in coordinated efforts. Between fishing expeditions, they perch in trees to rest.


Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs for 27 to 30 days, with nestlings gaining independence after approximately 70 days. They construct their nests from sticks and reeds within dense vegetation, often in trees or shrubs, and sometimes on small floating islets.

Similar Species

The Pygmy Cormorant can be differentiated from the Great Cormorant and the Common Shag by its smaller size, lighter build, and longer tail.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Pygmy Cormorant primarily consists of fish. They are adept hunters, often working in groups to catch their prey.

Conservation status

The Pygmy Cormorant is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, it faces threats from habitat destruction due to wetland drainage, water pollution, disturbance, poaching, and accidental deaths from fishing nets. Conservation efforts are in place under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

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Pygmy Cormorants on Birda


More Cormorants, Shags

A photo of a Shag (Gulosus aristotelis)


Gulosus aristotelis
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