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Books about Cormorants and Shags

The books in the main section are listed in order of publication date with the most recent at the top.


Family: Phalacrocoracidae

In the UK

Cormorant (Great Cormorant)
Phalocrocorax carbo

Shag (European Shag)
Phalocrocorax aristotelis


There are 41 species of cormorant worldwide.


The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah

Linda R. Wires

Illustrations: Barry Kent Mackay

Yale University Press


"This enormously important book explores the roots of human-cormorant conflicts, dispels myths about the birds, and offers the first comprehensive assessment of the policies that have been developed to manage the double-crested cormorant in the twenty-first century. Conservation biologist Linda Wires provides a unique synthesis of the cultural, historical, scientific, and political elements of the cormorant's story. She discusses the amazing late-twentieth-century population recovery, aided by protection policies and environment conservation, but also the subsequent U.S. federal policies under which hundreds of thousands of the birds have been killed. In a critique of the science, management, and ethics underlying the double-crested cormorant's treatment today, Wires exposes "management" as a euphemism for persecution and shows that the current strategies of aggressive predator control are outdated and unsupported by science."

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The Devil's Cormorant: A Natural History

Richard J. King

University Press of New England


"Behold the cormorant: silent, still, cruciform, and brooding; flashing, soaring, quick as a snake. Evolution has crafted the only creature on Earth that can migrate the length of a continent, dive and hunt deep underwater, perch comfortably on a branch or a wire, walk on land, climb up cliff faces, feed on thousands of different species, and live beside both fresh and salt water in a vast global range of temperatures and altitudes, often in close proximity to man. Long a symbol of gluttony, greed, bad luck, and evil, the cormorant has led a troubled existence in human history, myth, and literature. The birds have been prized as a source of mineral wealth in Peru, hunted to extinction in the Arctic, trained by the Japanese to catch fish, demonized by Milton in Paradise Lost, and reviled, despised, and exterminated by sport and commercial fishermen from Israel to Indianapolis, Toronto to Tierra del Fuego. In The Devil's Cormorant, Richard King takes us back in time and around the world to show us the history, nature, ecology, and economy of the world's most misunderstood waterfowl."

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Production of Representative Cormorant Population Trends with Confidence Limits

D.F. Chamberlain, Graham E. Austin, R. E. Green and Niall HK Burton

BTO Research Report 612

British Trust For Ornithology


Background & Aim: "The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) produces indices and smoothed trends for over 70 species of waterbird overwintering in Great Britain and the four constituent countries of the UK, revised on an annual basis. Regional trends (based on administrative regions of the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) are also produced routinely. In addition, a Cormorant trend for England and Wales combined is generated to supply Fera / Defra. All these trends are generated using the Underhill Indexing Method.With respect to the Cormorant index, there are two issues that give cause for concern. Firstly, the current index is based on all consistently counted (at least 50% of potential counts undertaken) WeBS sites in England and Wales both coastal and inland. It would be informative to produce a separate population trend from inland sites only. Secondly, and more importantly, because WeBS counts are based on sites of variable size and nature, hitherto no attempt has been made to attach confidence limits to these indices. While this has not been considered an issue previously for the general population trend monitoring for which WeBS indices are used, it does becomes an issue when one wishes to consider the significance of between winter changes to the index value with respect to control measures such as those currently in place for Cormorants. Thus an action point arising from a meeting held between Defra, government agencies and NGOs on Cormorants (9 January 2009) was to consider the possibility of incorporating data from the WeBS Dispersed Waterbird Survey to inform the WeBS index for Cormorant to allow confidence limits to be fitted to the Cormorant trend. The analysis presented below arose from a later meeting (2 February 2009), and actioned as a result of discussion at a meeting informing Defra's current review of the culling of fish-eating birds (5 October 2011).This analysis would add considerably to our understanding of trends in the Cormorant population of England and Wales, both at this national level and regionally."

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The Double-Crested Cormorant: Symbol of Ecological Conflict

Dennis Wild

The University of Michigan Press


"In The Double-Crested Cormorant: Symbol of Ecological Conflict, Dennis Wild brings together the biological, social, legal, and international aspects of the cormorant's world to give a complete and balanced view of one of the Great Lakes' and perhaps North America's most misunderstood species. In addition to taking a detailed look at the complex natural history of the cormorant, The Double-Crested Cormorant: Symbol of Ecological Conflict explores the implications of congressional acts and international treaties, the workings and philosophies of state and federal wildlife agencies, the unrelenting efforts of aquaculture and fishing interests to "cull" cormorant numbers to "acceptable" levels, and the reactions and visions of conservation groups. Wild examines both popular preconceptions about cormorants (what kinds of fish they eat and how much) and the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to control the cormorant population. Finally, The Double-Crested Cormorant: Symbol of Ecological Conflict delves into the question of climate and terrain changes, their consequences for cormorants, the new territories to which the birds must adapt, and the conflicts this species is likely to face going forward."

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Pelicans, Cormorants, and their Relatives: Pelecanidae, Sulidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Anhingidae, Fregatidae, Phaethontidae

J. Bryan Nelson

Colour plates: Andrew Mackay

Black-and-white drawings: John Busby

Oxford University Press


680 pages, 12 colour plates, 159 halftones, 62 maps

This volume comprises 5 general chapters on the biology, feeding ecology, breeding behaviour, evolutionary relationships, and conservation of the birds in the families covered; 12 specially commissioned colour plates showing adults of all species and many juveniles, immatures and subspecies; 159 black-and-white drawings illustrating special features and behaviour; descriptions of each individual species.

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Foraging Ecology, Bioenergetics And Predatory Impact Of Breeding Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the Beaver Archipelago, Northern Lake Michigan

Nancy E. Seefelt

ProQuest / UMI


This work documents an intensive study on the population dynamics and foraging ecology of breeding cormorants of the same area between 2000 and 2004.

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Pelicans, Cormorants, and Their Kin

Erin Pembrey Swan

Animals In Order series

Franklin Watts


This childrens book explains how pelicans and their relatives are classified and describes some of the commoner species. Also provides information on where and how the birds live.

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Cormorants along the River Wensum: An Analysis of Habitat Associations

M.J.S. Armitage, G.E. Austin & M.M. Rehfisch

BTO Research report 262

British Trust for Ornithology


39 page report.

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Ecological aspects of Pygmy Cormorants Phalacrocorax pygmeus in Prespa, Greece, May-August 1996

F.J. Willems & E. de Vries

WIWO Report 60

Working Group International Waterbird and Wetland Research


"During the 1996 breeding season ecological research was carried out to investigate feeding ecological aspects and colony size of the Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus, a vulnerable bird species, at Prespa National Park, northwestern Greece."

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Riding On The Crest Of The Wave: Possibilities And Limitations For A Thriving Population Of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax Carbo) In Man-Dominated Wetlands

Editors: M.R. van Eerden, K. Koffijberg & M. Platteeuw

Ardea, vol. 83: Journal of the Netherlands Ornithologists' Union


This book is a collection of 32 papers by scientists working in the fields of ethology, population biology, ecology and toxicology. They give an overview of what is known about cormorants and formulate questions for future research.

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Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World

Paul A. Johnsgard

Smithsonian Institute


The first comprehensive study of the world's 32 species of cormorants and shags, two species of darters, and seven species of pelicans. The first section of the book analyses comparative biology and second gives detailed accounts of individual species. Includes colour illustrations and anatomical drawings.

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The Food Of Cormorants And Shags In Scottish Estuaries And Coastal Waters

Bennet Birnie Rae

Marine research, H.M.S.O.


A 16 page report.

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Water-Birds With Webbed Feet

Paul Geroudet

Translation: Phyllis Barclay-Smith



Originally published in Switzerland.

Covers webbed feet birds of Western Europe.

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Catalogue Of The Plataleae, Herodiones, Steganopodes, Pygopodes, Alcae and Impennes In The Collection Of The British Museum

Catalogue Of The Birds In The British Museum, Volume XXVI

Plataleae and Herodiones: R. Bowdler Sharpe

Steganopodes, Pygopodes, Alcae, Impennes: W.R. Ogilvie-Grant

14 colour plates: J. Smit, J.G. Keulemans

Printed By Order Of The Trustees

Sold by: Longman & Co.; B. Quaritch; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co.; and at the British Museum (Natural History)


From the preface:

"The present volume, though not numerically the last, has been, owing to various delays in its production, the last to appear. Its publication completes the series, as originally projected by Dr. Gunther more than twenty-five years ago. The whole work consists of twenty-seven volumes, and it may fairly claim to be one of the most important aids to the study of Systematic Ornithology which has ever been produced. The first volume appeared in June 1874. The others have followed at intervals averaging rather less than a year. The publication of the work has therefore been very nearly coincident with Dr. Gunther's administration of the Zoological Department of the Museum. It is to him that the general arrangement and supervision of the work is due, although each contributor has been allowed a considerable latitude in following his own views as to the details of classification and nomenclature."
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Last updated August 2013