Phalacrocoridae - Cormorants
The cormorants are long-necked, elongated birds with an oily plumage, which is usually black with an iridescent sheen. Despite being accomplished divers, this plumage is not waterproof so birds are often seen sitting on rocks with their short wings outstretched, drying off. All feed on fish and they have long, sharp beaks, with the sides of the mouth and throat being greatly extendible to accomodate larger prey. They are mostly marine (as are both British species), but a few species are found inland and in some regions (particlarly south-east Asia) they are trained to hunt for fish on a leash.
Two species breed around the coasts of Britain, the larger Cormorant, which is spreading to inland lakes and rivers, and the smaller Shag which is exclusively marine.
Regularly Occurring Species
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