Family Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)


French: Cormoran africain German: Riedscharbe Spanish: Cormorán africano
Other common names: Reed Cormorant

Pelecanus africanus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Often considered conspecific with M. coronatus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. africanus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania and Senegal E to Sudan and Eritrea and S to South Africa.
  • M. a. pictilis Bangs, 1918 – Madagascar.
  • Descriptive notes

    50–60 cm; 435–685 g; wingspan 80–90 cm. Small, short-billed and long-tailed. Plumages rather confusing because of seasonal, age-related and individual... read more


    Little information. At roost birds emit bleating chorus of “a-a-a-a-a-a” sounds.


    Mainly inland waters: slow-flowing rivers, lagoons, swamps, ponds and even alkaline lakes. Also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fish up to 20 cm in length, and usually of 3–4 g: cichlids, especially dwarf bream (Pharyngochromis darlingi) at L... read more


    Season variable with region, laying recorded in all months, and in seasonal areas usually with distinct peaks, e.g. Oct–Apr in South... read more


    Essentially sedentary, with major irregular movements related to changes in local water conditions... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common throughout much of range; general trend of decrease. Estimated minimum of 21,000 pairs in W Africa in mid 1980s... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Kirwan, G.M., Jutglar, F. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Long-tailed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus). 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 25 February 2020).