Family Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Near Threatened

Red-legged Cormorant (Poikilocarbo gaimardi)


French: Cormoran de Gaimard German: Buntscharbe Spanish: Cormorán chuita
Other common names: Red-legged Shag

Carbo Gaimardi

Lesson and Garnot

, 1828,

“Lima, au Pérou” = San Lorenzo Island, roadstead of Lima


Sometimes placed in genus Stictocarbo or occasionally in Leucocarbo, but a recent comprehensive molecular phylogeny found this species to represent an ancient lineage sister to all remaining cormorants#R. Atlantic populations sometimes separated as race cirriger, but this generally considered undiagnosable. Monotypic.


Coasts of S South America: in Pacific from Isla Foca, in N Peru, to Punta Elefante (Península de Taitao)#R, in SC Chile; in Atlantic restricted to S Argentina (mainly from Bahía Sanguinetto to Monte León National Park, in Santa Cruz).

Descriptive notes

71–76 cm; male 1200–1550 g, female 1250–1400 g; wingspan 91 cm. Slim, long-billed, grey-coloured shag with with silvery and white markings, but no crest. Breeding adult... read more


Usually silent away from breeding area. Calls at nest are unusually high-pitched passerine-like... read more


Marine. Breeds on rocky coasts and islands, often on cliffs.

Food and feeding

Mainly fish. Feeds mainly by pursuit diving. Habitually forages alone.


Lays Oct–Jan in Chile; in tropics year–round. Solitary or in small groups. Nests in caves or on cliff ledges; large nests of... read more


Little known. Vagrant to Strait of Magellan and S Ecuador.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. The global population in 2007 was estimated at 30,000 individuals: 13,000–15,000 breeding birds in the... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Red-legged Cormorant (Poikilocarbo gaimardi). 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 24 August 2019).