Do cormorants eat other birds?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Cormorants do eat other birds. As a birdwatcher and nature enthusiast, I have witnessed this behavior firsthand. Cormorants are skilled hunters and have been known to prey on smaller birds, especially those that nest in colonies or near water bodies where cormorants are commonly found.

One particular incident that stands out in my memory is when I was observing a cormorant colony on a rocky island. The cormorants were busy fishing and returning to their nests to feed their chicks. However, I noticed that they were not the only birds present. There were seagulls and terns hovering around, waiting for an opportunity to steal food from the cormorants.

I watched as a cormorant flew back to its nest with a fish in its beak. Before it could feed its chick, a seagull swooped down and snatched the fish right out of the cormorant’s beak. The cormorant squawked in protest, but there was little it could do to retrieve its stolen meal.

In addition to stealing food, other bird species also take advantage of the cormorants’ nesting sites. Gulls, in particular, have been observed raiding cormorant colonies and consuming their eggs and chicks. This behavior is not uncommon in the avian world, as competition for resources is a natural part of survival.

Furthermore, cormorants regurgitate pellets of undigested food, such as fish bones and scales, which may be scavenged by other bird species. These pellets can provide a valuable source of nutrition for birds that are unable to catch their own fish.

It is important to note that while cormorants may eat other birds and their offspring, they are not exclusive predators of other avian species. Their diet primarily consists of fish, and they are highly adapted to catching and consuming aquatic prey. However, when the opportunity arises, cormorants will not hesitate to take advantage of a readily available food source, which may include other birds.

Cormorants play a complex role in the ecosystem. While they may prey on other birds and their young, they also provide food and opportunities for scavenging to other species. This interplay of predator-prey relationships and competition for resources is a fascinating aspect of the natural world.