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Art by Barry Kent MacKay

cormorant Mackay
(Artwork - 044)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus)

The Great Cormorant is found throughout most of the eastern hemisphere, including parts of Greenland, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. They have crossed the North Atlantic Ocean to colonize the northeast coast of North America (in winter they have reached as far south as Florida, but normally don’t breed south of about Nova Scotia or Maine), but probably only did that recently (within the last few thousand years) because the birds found in North America are the exact same subspecies as the one found along the northern cost of Europe, the nominate race.  (Great Cormorants like both fresh and salt water, so I predict that within a few centuries they will make their way inland, in North America, to the Great Lakes, and possibly will reach the interior lakes of the northern prairies, and possibly the great inland sea known as Hudson Bay…but not in my lifetime.

A few isolated individuals have been spotted in Lake Ontario, however, so far as I know there is no evidence of them breeding in fresh water in North America…yet.) But the species has diverged into a number of subspecies, some quite distinctive.  Here I have shown a bird of the race found in southern Africa, Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus, sometimes called the White-breasted Cormorant.  This portrait shows a bird in non-breeding plumage, and is done with gouache watercolours on paper, with a little colour pencil added. Adults in breeding plumage are more crisply black and white.

Please read Why People Kill Cormorants...

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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