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Flightless Cormorant

Flightless Cormorant

The world's only flightless cormorant

Information about Flightless Cormorant

Another unique Galápagos resident, the Flightless Cormorant is the only species of cormorant in the archipelago. It’s the heaviest of the world’s cormorants, and the only one to have evolved to become flightless, thanks to the Galápagos’ unique isolation and rich habitat.

Found on the shoreline and beaches of Isabela and Fernandina Islands, the Galápagos Flightless Cormorant is unmistakable with its stubby, under-developed wings. Over millennia, the lack of natural predators and the rich, fish-filled waters meant that the strongest swimmers prevailed over the best flyers, and there are now around 800 pairs in the Galápagos.

The Flightless Cormorant breeds throughout the year, but most eggs are laid between May and October. Breeding pairs perform a strange and unique courtship dance that involves them intertwining their necks while turning together in a tight circle.

The cormorants nest directly on sheltered rocky shores where they build up nests made from seaweed just above the high water line, giving them the shortest walk down to the sea to feed. On your Galápagos cruise you’ll have ample opportunity to observe these rare creatures, and when you see how ungainly they are on land you will understand why they build nests close to the sea!

Our naturalist guides will explain to you how the Galápagos Flightless Cormorants are particularly susceptible to the weather events known as El Niño, and their populations can be devastated in bad years. Officially listed as “vulnerable”, the National Park has been working carefully to support the populations by removing any invasive species around the nesting sites.

Interesting facts about Flightless Cormorant

Because it has lost the ability to fly, the Galápagos Cormorant has been able to grow into the heaviest cormorant species

Like all cormorants, the Flightless Cormorant has 4 toes on each foot, each joined with a web of skin

Adult Flightless Cormorants make a low, growling noise as their call

Flightless cormorants don't use their stubby wings to "fly" underwater, they swim with their strong legs and feet

Pictures of Flightless Cormorant

Flightless Cormorant
Flightless Cormorant
Flightless Cormorant

Highlights where the Flightless Cormorant can be seen

Our trips to spot the Flightless Cormorant

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