Skip to Content

Cape cormorant

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
User avatar
Johan van Rensburg
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2545
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Jam Street

Cape cormorant

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:06 am

Though looking like nondescript black birds from afar, at close range the black plumage of a breeding adult Cape cormorant, Phalacrocorax capensis, has an iridescent sheen like with this bird. The eyes of this cormorant are one of the most striking in the bird kingdom with exquisite turquoise coloured irises surrounded by blue beads on the eyelids.


Cape Cormorants are endemic to southern Africa. They are abundant on the west coast but less common on the east coast of southern Africa. Cape Cormorants breed on offshore islands, cliffs, rocks and artificial structures such as jetties, platforms and even moored fishing vessels and yachts. They construct shallow nests using seaweed, sticks and guano, and nest in dense colonies at 'pecking distance' from one another. At Bird Island, Lamberts Bay, special breeding platforms have been erected for cormorants and both the Cape and white-breasted cormorants have made full use of this initiative, often building two nests on one platform.



There was no sign of this little critter earlier in the day... I can only assume that it was under the duvet...

Ringing records show that the Cape cormorant breeds up to 10 years into its life, making its lifespan possibly around 12 – 15 years. In spite of the last estimate of its population size being at 1 000 000, the IUCN classifies it as “Near Threatened” because of ongoing pollution from oil slicks, disturbance to stocks of its prey and pathogen or parasite increases. In a 15-year period the breeding population shrunk from 277 032 pairs to only 72 000 pairs by 1996.

These cormorants generally feed within 10-15 km of the shoreline, preying on Pelagic Goby, Cape Anchovy, Pilchard and Cape Horse Mackerel.
728 Latest lifers: Hartlaub's babbler, Coppery-tailed coucal, Red-billed spurfowl, White-browed coucal, Scharlow's turaco, Copper sunbird, Long-toed lapwing, Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Malagasy pond heron, Soft-plumaged petrel, Orange-winged pytilia.

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 3869
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)

Re: Cape cormorant

Unread post by arks » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:42 pm

Very interesting, JvR, I'd no idea about those amazing blue eyes :shock: (Note to self: must look at cormorants FAR more closely infuture :redface: ) And how nice to have a chickie surprise :wink: :D
RSA 2017
9-11 November Cape Town
11-29 November RMS St Helena: St Helena & Ascension
29-30 November Cape Town
1 December-21 January Darling

Return to “Birding in Southern Africa”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Webcam Highlights

Submitted by CindyC at 04:39:37
Submitted by CindyC at 01:15:21
Submitted by CindyC at 04:35:55
Submitted by CindyC at 21:27:27