AppearanceThe Little Pied Cormorant is a small cormorant measuring 56–58 cm with a shorter 3 cm bill and longer tail than the Little Black Cormorant; it has a small black crest. It is found in two morphs in New Zealand. Subspecies ''melanoleucos'' and ''brevicauda'' are found only in a pied morph, black above and white beneath.
This is also found in subspecies ''brevirostris'', but in this form the melanistic morph is much more common. In this form the entire plumage is black with a greenish tinge except for the sides of the head, chin, throat and upper neck; the bill is yellow with black on top. Intermediate forms are also found.
The pied form is glossy black above with white face, underparts and thighs. The bill and bare skin around the face are yellow. In both forms the legs and feet are black. The pied form is rare in New Zealand, and is most common there in Northland, where it makes up one in every four birds or so.
Chicks have dark brown down, with pied morph having patches of paler down. Immature birds are a dull blackish brown, with pied morph birds having paler underparts.
The Little Pied Cormorant makes a low cooing during courtship.
DistributionThe species ranges across New Zealand, from Stewart Island to Northland, and across mainland Australia and Tasmania and Indonesia.
HabitatWidespread and common, it lives near bodies of water such as swamps, lakes, lagoons, estuaries and the coastline.
ReproductionBreeding occurs once a year in spring or early summer in southern areas of its range, and after the monsoon in tropical regions. The nest is a platform built of branches and sticks, often still green with leaves in the forks of trees, usually eucalypts that are standing in water. Nests are often located near other waterbirds such as other cormorants, herons, ibis or spoonbills. Four or five pale blue oval eggs measuring 46 x 31 mm are laid. The eggs are covered with a thin layer of lime, giving them a matte white coated appearance. They become increasingly stained with feces, as does the nest, over the duration of the breeding season.
FoodThe Little Pied Cormorant is a benthic feeder, i.e. it finds its prey on the sea floor. It is a solitary feeder, normally diving in relatively shallow water, often near the shore. Dive times are short, around 15 to 20 seconds, with recovery times on the surface of 5 to 10 seconds unless prey are being swallowed. It takes a variety of fish prey but an unusually high proportion of crustaceans. In New Zealand waters it is most often seen preying on the local flounder and other small flatfish. Eels and insect larvae are also consumed. These are brought to the surface to be swallowed: the bird will sometimes put a fish down on the surface of the water in order to re-orient it and swallow it head first. Because of this habit, they suffer some kleptoparasitism from Red-billed Gulls.
Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.