Bird GuideCormorantsNeotropic Cormorant
Neotropic Cormorant
Nannopterum brasilianum

At a Glance

Found throughout the American tropics, this lanky diving bird is common in some areas near the Mexican border, and may be gradually extending its range north. Similar to the Double-crested Cormorant but a little smaller, and may be found with it, especially inland or in winter. Formerly called Olivaceous Cormorant.
Cormorants, Upright-perching Water Birds
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Freshwater Wetlands, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers
California, Great Lakes, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Formation

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Largely permanent resident, but some birds nesting inland may move south in winter. Occasionally wanders north, mainly in warmer months.


25" (64 cm). Smaller than Double-crested Cormorant (hard to judge except when they're together), with distinctly longer tail. Bare throat pouch is duller, yellowish instead of orange, and back edge of this bare skin is pointed (looks more rounded on Double-crested). In breeding plumage, adult has sharp white border setting off yellow throat pouch.
About the size of a Heron, About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Black, Brown, Orange, White
Wing Shape
Broad, Rounded
Tail Shape
Long, Rounded, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

Soft grunts.
Call Pattern
Flat, Simple
Call Type


Tidal waters, lakes. In United States on warm southern waters, mostly fresh or brackish. Even in coastal regions, mainly on protected estuaries, rivers, or ponds, although may nest on coastal islands. May nest far inland in dead trees around reservoirs. In Latin America found in wide variety of inland and coastal areas, on both warm and cold waters.



3-4, sometimes 1-5. Bluish white, becoming nest-stained. Incubation apparently by both sexes, averages about 25-30 days.


Both parents feed young. Age at first flight not well known, but young raised on islands able to swim and dive at 8 weeks, fed until 11th week, independent at 12 weeks.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by diving from surface and swimming underwater, propelled mostly by feet. Rarely plunges into water from air after prey. May forage in groups, birds beating water with wings to drive fish forward into shallows.


Small fish. Feeds mostly on abundant small fish of shallow protected waters; typical prey about 2" long, up to about 5". Also eats tadpoles, frogs, aquatic insects. In wide range of tropical habitats, probably other prey as well.


Breeds in colonies. Displays of male include sitting with tail raised, bill pointed up, while raising and lowering tips of folded wings. Both sexes display by stretching neck up, bill open, waving head back and forth. Nest: Site usually in live or dead bushes or trees, 3-25' above water; sometimes on ground on islands. Nest (probably built by both sexes) a solid platform of sticks, with depression at center lined with twigs, grass.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Texas population dropped sharply in 1950s and 1960s, possibly owing to effects of persistent pesticides, but since then has increased again in Texas and Louisiana. Also has been increasing and spreading north inland in the southwest and the Great Plains; first found nesting in New Mexico in the 1970s.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Neotropic Cormorant. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Neotropic Cormorant

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.