The plumage of the Pigmy Cormorant is black-brown and males and females are almost the same. It measures 50 cm in length and 85 cm in wingspan. During the breeding period they are black-brown with white stripes on their bodies and metallic tint on their wings. During the autumn and winter the stripes and the tint disappear. The young ones have a white patch under the chin and a whitish belly and breast.

The Pigmy Cormorant flies with quick and shallow strokes close to the water.

Distribution and Habitat

The Pigmy Cormorant is a sarmatic species with a limited area in the south eastern West Palearctic Realm and inhabits the coasts of the Sea of Azov, the Aral Sea, the Caspian Sea, Asia Minor and the Near East.

It inhabits fresh and brackish water basins with dense plantation, dams, rivers and canals with reed and bulrush. The Pigmy Cormorant breeds only on the Balkan Peninsula mostly in Romania and at the delta of the Danube river. In Bulgaria it is found at the coast of the Danube river and Maritsa river and in lakes close to the Danube river and the sea. Especially important for the Pigmy Cormorant are the lakes around Burgas. Their population in Bulgaria increases considerably during the cold months as birds from countries to the north come to Bulgaria.

The Pigmy Cormorant migrates in flocks but not far away. In the winter they gather in large flocks at the coasts of rivers that do not freeze and at relatively shallow water basins. The Maritsa river valley and the Burgas wetlands gather a great number of wintering cormorants.


The Pigmy Cormorant feeds on fish and it catches its food diving. Apart from small fish it likes crustaceans and small mammals like water rats. After feeding they spread their wings at the sun and wind resting and getting dried.


The Pigmy Cormorant nests in colonies on short trees, bushes, and reed plantations. It forms mixed colonies with the Little Egret, the Black-crowned Night Heron, the Eurasian Spoonbill, Ibis and others. It lays from 4 to 6 eggs and has one offspring per year between May and July. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 27 to 30 days and the chicks become independent after 70 days.

Conservation Status

According to IUCN its status is Least Concern, but in Bulgaria according to the Red Data Book it is Endangered.



Pigmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus)