The Enigmatic Little Cormorant – A Detailed Examination


The Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger) is a captivating bird often found across India and several parts of Southeast Asia. With its sleek black plumage and skilful fishing techniques, this bird is a marvel of avian adaptability. Often confused with its larger cousin, the Indian cormorant, the Little Cormorant stands out through various unique features, making it a fascinating subject for bird lovers, birdlife sanctuary enthusiasts, and ornithologists alike.


Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameLittle Cormorant
2BinomialMicrocarbo niger
3ColourBlack, brownish
4Average Length50 cm
5Average Height20 cm
6Type of BirdWetlands
7Found in StatesAcross India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, lowland Nepal
8HabitatWetlands, lakes, tidal estuaries
9IUCN StatusLeast Concern

Features of the Bird


The Little Cormorant has an average length of approximately 50 cm. When observed at a bird sanctuary, the bird appears slightly smaller than the Indian cormorant. For those interested in bird photos, capturing the Little Cormorant in its full length can be a rewarding experience. Its length allows flexibility and agility, which are critical for birdlife in wetlands and open waters. Capturing a bird image of this creature can be particularly rewarding during its hunting sprees.


When measured vertically, the Little Cormorant stands at an average height of about 20 cm. While bird migration doesn’t significantly affect this species, as it is mainly resident, the vertical measurement of this bird remains consistent. For bird nest enthusiasts, knowing the height of the bird can be essential for creating appropriate artificial nesting environments in birdlife sanctuaries.

Running Speed

Little Cormorants are not known for their running speed in terms of terrestrial movement. Generally, they prefer to swim rather than run. However, their quick reflexes make them formidable hunters, an impressive sight for any bird lover visiting a bird sanctuary. When these birds spot a fish, they quickly dive and capture their prey. For anyone interested in bird migration, it’s worth noting that this bird mainly remains resident and doesn’t exhibit significant migratory behaviour.


Depending on its breeding status, the Little Cormorant possesses a luscious black or brownish plumage. This is a striking backdrop when photographing the bird, creating captivating bird photos. During the breeding season, the plumage turns glossy black with white spots and filoplumes, giving the bird a majestic appearance.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Habitat: Prefers wetlands and can be commonly found in bird sanctuaries near water bodies. Also, the bird is often spotted in village ponds, large lakes, and tidal estuaries.
  1. Diet: The Little Cormorant mainly preys on fish. Its hunting skills are adept for birdlife in aquatic environments, making it a successful predator.
  1. Foraging Groups: Usually, these birds forage in small, loose groups or even alone. This behaviour is distinct from other cormorants, such as the Indian cormorant, which often fishs communally.
  1. Depth of Fishing: A study in India found that birds often fished in waters less than a meter deep, capturing 2–8 cm fish.
  1. Inter-species Interaction: While fishing, the Little Cormorant is sometimes approached by other birds, like painted storks and gulls, who attempt to steal their catch.

Nesting and Nurturing

Little Cormorants build their bird nests near water bodies, often in trees or on ledges. The nesting season generally occurs between June and September. During this period, both the male and female participate in nest-building and incubation. Bird houses that mimic their natural environment can be effective for those aiming to nurture these birds in birdlife sanctuaries.


The major threats to the Little Cormorant include habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing. With the increasing number of bird shops selling fishing equipment, overfishing is becoming a significant concern for the bird’s natural habitat. Bird lovers and birdlife sanctuary activists are keenly involved in creating awareness about the conservation of this species.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The Little Cormorant is currently classified as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List. Despite this, efforts are ongoing to ensure that their habitat is preserved and that they continue to thrive. Bird sanctuaries and birdlife sanctuaries play an essential role in these conservation efforts, providing safe environments for these birds to live and breed.


The Little Cormorant is a remarkable bird, and observing it in its natural habitat can be a thrilling experience for any bird lover. Whether you’re keen on bird photography or you’re just an avid bird watcher, this bird never ceases to impress with its beauty and natural fishing prowess.

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