Thursday, May 09, 2002

Cormorants and Shags of the World

I have been fascinated with cormorants since the very beginnings of my professional career, when I encountered three species (Double-crested, Pelagic, and Red-faced) in the Aleutian Islannds. The cormorants and shags are grouped into the family Phalacrocoracidae.Their nearest relatives are the gannets and boobies (Sulidae) and the anhingas or darters (Anhingidae). Worldwide, scientists recognize (depending on taxonomic authority) anywhere from 36 to 41 species of cormorants and shags, all in the genus Phalacrocorax. Seven (six living) species are found in the United States; these are boldfaced and denoted by asterisks in the following list. The Double-crested Cormorant is the most widespread and abundant of the six living species. It is also the only species that occurs regularly on freshwater lakes and streams, although the Neotropic Cormorant (once restricted to saltwater and brackish habitats) appears to be gradually extending its range northward into freshwater habitats in the south-central U.S.

The principal source for the following list is James F. Clements' Birds of the world: a checklist.

Amchitka Cormorant - kenyoni (Amchitka Island, n Pacific Ocean) EXTINCT*
Antarctic Shag - bransfieldensis (subantarctic islands & Antarctica)
Auckland Islands Shag - colensoi (Auckland Islands - s Pacific Ocean)
Bank Cormorant - neglectus (sw Africa)
Black-faced Cormorant - fuscescens (s Australia)
Bounty Islands Shag - ranfurlyi (Bounty Islands - s Pacific Ocean)
Brandt's Cormorant - penicillatus (Alaska to nw Mexico)*
Bronze Shag - chalconotus (s New Zealand)
Campbell Islands Shag - campbelli (Campbell Island?s Pacific Ocean)
Cape Cormorant - capensis (sw Africa)
Chatham Islands Shag - onslowi (Chatham Islands - s Pacific Ocean)
Crowned Cormorant - coronatus (sw Africa)
Crozet Shag - melanogenis (Prince Edward, Marion, & Crozet islands)
Double-crested Cormorant - auritus (North America to n Mexico)*
European Shag - aristotelis (w Palearctic)
Flightless Cormorant - harrisi (Galapagos Islands - s Pacific Ocean)
Great Cormorant - carbo (ne North America, Eurasia to Africa, & New Zealand)*
Guanay Cormorant - bougainvillii (w & s South America)
Heard Island Shag - nivalis (s Indian Ocean)
Imperial Shag - atriceps (s South America & s Indian Ocean)
Indian Cormorant - fuscicollis (s & se Asia)
Japanese Cormorant - capillatus (e Asia)
Kerguelen Shag - verrucosus (Kerguelen Island - India Ocean)
Little Black Cormorant - sulcirostris (Australian region)
Little Cormorant - niger (s & se Asia)
Little Pied Cormorant - melanoleucos (Indonesia to New Zealand)
Long-tailed Cormorant - africanus (Africa & Madagascar)
Macquarie Shag - purpurascens (Macquarie Island & adjacent islands)
Neotropic Cormorant - brasilianus (cs USA to South America)*
Pallas's Cormorant - perspicillatus (Commander Islands?n Pacific Ocean) EXTINCT
Pelagic Cormorant - pelagicus (n Pacific Ocean to nw Mexico)*
Pied Cormorant - varius (Australia & New Zealand)
Pitt Island Shag - featherstoni (Chatham Islands - s Pacific Ocean)
Pygmy Cormorant - pygmaeus (sc Eurasia)
Red-faced Cormorant - urile (n Pacific Ocean)*
Red-legged Cormorant - gaimardi (sw and s South America)
Rock Shag - magellanicus (s South America)
Rough-faced Shag - carunculatus (c New Zealand)
Socotra Cormorant - nigrocularis (nw Indian Ocean)
South Georgia Shag - georgianus (subantarctic islands)
Spotted Shag - punctatus (New Zealand)

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