LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)

LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) enjoying the early afternoon winter sun on the Maribyrnong River.

The Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) is the smallest Australian Cormorant.  It’s a miniature duller version of the Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varies), but the adult lacks the large coloured facial skin patches.

The white face extends above the eye.

Tufted crest of black feathers on the forehead appear in the early breeding season.  It lacks the black thigh patch of the two larger pied species with the immature having brown upper parts merging into off-white underparts, with a blackish thigh stripe.

Habitat: Almost any water, inland or coastal, fresh, salt or brackish, of any sort.  It is very widespread indeed and I’ve seen this bird with its wings outspread drying its feathers in the public gardens like the Royal Botanic Gardens to the south-east of Melbourne where I used to live, the Treasury Gardens on the eastern rim of Melbourne’s CBD (central business district), as well as down the local bayside beaches that I’ve visited via public transport since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010.

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GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

One of my goals for this year, (and I don’t have many), is to be able to identify birds which look very similar.

To me, a Cormorant is a Cormorant.

Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) looks the same to me as a Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) for example.

It was only on re-viewing my Cormorant photo folder last night that I realised the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is actually very easy to identify and I really just hadn’t made enough effort to read up on Australia’s largest cormorant in my Bird Guide Book.

These birds are large.

Very large.

The adult is iridescent black, with bare yellow facial skin and throat path.  In the breeding season, a white chin and thigh patches develop.  The immature bird is dark brown.   It’s facial skin colours, even from a great distance away, when you can’t determine the bird’s actual size, make it quite distinct from the Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris).  

I really don’t know why I kept getting them mixed up.

Australia has 5 cormorants and a couple of them are regular inhabitants of my local river (behind my apartment building).

The images above were made back in August 2012 at Melbourne Zoo.  These birds aren’t in any form of enclosure, but probably come to the island and enormous lagoon area near the Orangutan enclosure, at around 4.00pm, to partake of the daily feeding of the Australian Pelicans in the area.

If you’re visiting Melbourne, or even just a local, it’s a good idea to check out the various feeding times around the Zoo to get some great close-up views of the various birds & animals etc.

Melbourne Zoo is open 365 days of the year.