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Common Name : Little Cormorant     -       Scientific Name : Phalacrocorax niger       -       Other Name : Punchi Diyakawa (S)
Aalam Villu
Aalam Villu

This is a very common breeding resident found in all the lowland water bodies and the lower hills of the country. It is less common in the hills. Other than in Sri Lanka this active fisherman is found in India, Bangladesh, lowlands of Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).

Little Cormorant is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have observed this species to be most plentiful in the dry zone tanks. Flocks numbering in excess of a thousand birds are quite common in the tanks in the North Central province. In the north I have recorded it from the Mannar Island, Jaffna peninsula and the islands off the Devils point ( Kakarathivu and Palaithivu) as well as the northern islands such as the Delft, Analathvu and Eluwathivu. It is quite common at the Beira Lake in Colombo and can some times be observed in fishing as a cohesive group along with the Spotted-billed Pelicans and the Indian Shags. It is common at the Kandy Lake. Even though I have seen a few individuals at Lake Gregory in Nuweraeliya at an altitude of 1820 meters and in the waterways in Meemure in the Knukles forest reserve at an altitude of 1310 meters it is less common in the higher hills.

In August last year I observed an interesting encounter between a White-bellied Sea Eagle and a Little Cormorant. Having arrived at Kokkare Villu I observed the eagle stooping on some prey and found that it was chasing a Little Cormorant that was flying just above the water. With the approach of the eagle the Cormorant dropped in to the water and dived in but the eagle kept on hovering and flying in small circles above the water for above five minutes and caught the bird as it came up for air. The eagle there after flew off with its prey.


In Wilpattu it is one of the most common birds and can be found in all the water bodies.