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Cormorants and Anhingas: Phalacrocoracidae

Physical Characteristics

The thirty-six species of cormorants are sleek, long-necked, dark waterbirds. They are good at flying and swimming, but they are clumsy when walking. Their length is between 19 and 40 inches (48 and 102 centimeters) from their bills to the end of their tails. Some weigh just 1.5 pounds (0.7 kilograms) and others weigh up to five times as much: 7.7 pounds (3.5 kilograms). Their long, thin, hooked bills have a saw-tooth edge. The Galápagos cormorant is unusual because it has stubby wings and cannot fly.

The four species of anhingas (pronounced an-HING-guz) are similar to the cormorants, but they have even longer necks. In some parts of the world, they are called darters. Their bills are sharply pointed (not hooked) and bright yellow. Their length from their bills to the end of the tails is between 34 and 36 inches (86 and 92 centimeters). They do not have oil glands for waterproofing their feathers.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsCormorants and Anhingas: Phalacrocoracidae - Physical Characteristics, Cormorants, Anhingas And People, Great Cormorant (phalacrocorax Carbo): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION, CONSERVATION STATUS