Family Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Least Concern

Great Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)


French: Cormoran varié German: Elsterscharbe Spanish: Cormorán pío
Other common names: Large Pied Cormorant, Australian Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant

Pelecanus varius

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand


Sometimes placed in genus Hypoleucos. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. v. hypoleucos (J. F. Brandt, 1837) – Australia.
  • P. v. varius (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – New Zealand (North I, South I and Stewart I).
  • Descriptive notes

    65–85 cm; 1300–2200 g; wingspan 110–130 cm. Pied bird lacking obvious crests. Adult of nominate race is black on cap just above eyes, on hindneck and rest... read more


    Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Calls of male at nest include loud, guttural grunting “... read more


    Mostly marine, especially in Western Australia, usually occupying sheltered waters of estuaries,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fish, comprising 90% in both weight and number of prey items; also crustaceans, including prawns, shrimps and crabs, and a few... read more


    Sometimes throughout year; season varies considerably with region and year, depending on local water conditions; mostly autumn or spring in... read more


    Adults basically sedentary, juveniles perform fairly extensive dispersal. Inland, temporary... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread in Australia. Less affected by destruction of habitat than several other species, as prefers coastal waters or permanent... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Great Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 August 2019).