Plumage and ecology of cormorants

  • W.R. Siegfried
  • A.J. Williams
  • P.G.H. Frost
  • J.B. Kinahan


The paper draws on data attending the etho-ecology of four species of cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae) in support of an hypothesis for the adaptive significance of the predominantly dark plumage of these birds. It is suggested that a dark plumage, primarily by being most receptive to solar radiation, assists cormorants in supplementing metabolic heat for maintenance of normal body temperature. In those cormorants which have white extending over ventral and frontal aspects of the body, it is suggested that this is an adaptation to the feeding situation and that it promotes 'hunting camouflage' through countershading.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020