(2182) Phalacrocorax niger.
THE LITTLE CORMORANT,
Hydrocorax niger Vieill., Nour. Diet. d'Hist. Nat., viii, p. 88 (1817). Phalacrocorax javanicus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 342.
Vernacular names. Pan-kowa, Jog-rabi (Hind.); Pan-kowri, Pan-houti (Beng.); Niru-kahi (Tel.); Kadal Kagam, Nir-kakam (Tam., Ceylon); Diya Kawa (Cing.); Di-dao-kwa-kashiba (Cachari).
Description. - Breeding plumage. General colour black with a deep blue or blue-green gloss; scapulars, inner secondaries, wing-coverts, except the least, dark silvery-grey with black edges; a few white silky feathers on the fore-crown and sides of the head and neck. There is a slight crest on the occiput and nape.
Colours of the soft parts. Iris green; bill horny-brown, blackish at the tip and livid purple at the base; gular skin and orbital skin black in the non-breeding-season, purple in the breeding-season; legs and feet blackish, tinged with purple flesh-colour when breeding.
Measurements. Wing 181 to 205 (once 212) mm.; tail 133 to 146 mm.; tarsus 35 to 40 mm.; culmen 29 to 34 mm.
In Winter the white filaments disappear on the head and neck but the feathers at the base of the lower bill are white, these sometimes extending to the throat.
Young birds are brown with the feathers of the back edged paler; the scapulars and inner secondaries are grey edged whitish and with broad black sub-edges; throat white ; centre of abdomen white and feathers of flanks and breast fringed with brownish-white.
Distribution. Ceylon, India, Burma, Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Java and Borneo.
Nidification. The Little Cormorant breeds all over the Empire where there are suitable lakes and marshes or even small ponds. Over most of India they lay after the rains have well broken, from July to September. In Ceylon they lay in March and April and again in November to December. Most of the colonies are small, half a dozen pairs, but a few number as many as fifty or sixty. The eggs only differ from those of the other Cormorants in their very small size and, perhaps, in being rather more narrow and pointed in proportion. One hundred eggs average 44.8 x 29.0 mm.: maxima 48.1 x 28.4 and 45.1 x 31.0 mm.; minima 41.1 and 28.7 x 41.8 x 26.3 mm.
Habits. In the non-breeding-season the Little Cormorant may be found on rivers, swamps and even village ponds, for it is a most familiar and fearless little bird. Even at this season they roost in company and sometimes, like their larger relatives, hunt and fish together. The call, flight etc. are like that of the other Cormorants.