A cormorant’s Christmas feast

This poor fish must have been close to being too large for the Pied Cormorant to tackle. The cormorant struggled to swallow it and came to shore with an obvious, still writhing bulge in its throat. The swallowing process was such an effort that the bird moved its neck in strange ways as it tried to force the fish further down its gullet; it then spent several hours sitting at the water’s edge unable to move until digestion was well underway.


Pied Cormorant - Kim Wormald

Pied Cormorant –  way out to sea, heavily cropped


Pied Cormorants are large black and white birds that frequent bays, estuaries and large wetlands. They grow to about 75cm and are ‘near threatened’ in Victoria. Their bright green eyes and orange eye patches are striking. I have multiple images of the bird as it sat on the sand looking uncomfortable, drying its wings and twisting its neck before finally lying on the sand and sleeping off its meal. I couldn’t help but think about a large Christmas dinner, followed by some moments of discomfort and a pleasant nap.

I’ll share some of the close-up cormorant images soon, in the meantime my heartfelt good wishes for a wonderful Christmas filled with birdsong and happiness.

Happy birding, Kim



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16 comments to A cormorant’s Christmas feast

  • Kyle

    Amazing capture and nice story! That looks like a big shocked fish staring down its captor’s throat here! It must be a struggle for the hungry bird but I imagine a worse potential fate for the (a flatfish?) fish here.

    So could the bird really manage to win the struggle and gulp that whole thing down entirely okay?? I wonder, if it was swallowed wriggling about, would that give it any slim chance of escaping or even damaging the birds stomach? Hard to think the fish would submit once inside and how the bird can manage such a meal! 😉

    • lirralirra

      You’re absolutely right Kyle – the fish did keep struggling for quite a while when it was in the cormorant’s throat. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. Someone said it was a leatherjacket, which could be the same as a flatfish, I don’t know much about fish. The post following this one, in case you haven’t seen it, talks about the struggle the cormorant had to swallow and digest the meal.

  • Alison Moore

    Merry Christmas Kim, as others have said, thank you very much for your wonderful pictures which arrive each Friday to entertain, amaze and educate your readers.
    Wishing you a fantastic Avian new year with new challenges and surprises.

    • lirralirra

      Hi Alison, your kind and helpful comments are always much appreciated. And you’ve made me smile with the thought of avian challenges and surprises. Wishing you a beautiful 2016.

  • Doug McNaughton

    Merry Christmas Kim, hope you have a fantastic year coming up – thanks tons for your blogging efforts and congrats on your great bird shots, all the best, Doug McN.

  • Thank you for your blog. I’m a recent reader, but I very much enjoy it.

    I love this photo. I’ve been trying to get interesting photos of cormorants eating fish, it can be such a humorous challenge 🙂 I provided a link to a little pied cormorant eating a fish in the website area.

    Merry Christmas 🙂

    • lirralirra

      Hi Jade, I’m glad you found lirralirra and enjoy your visits, thank you for letting me know! I can’t find your link to the little pied – can you post the link here or tag me on fb? I hope you get to take heaps of photographs of cormorants eating fish in 2016 🙂

  • dianne

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and photography tips. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year

    • lirralirra

      I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed the posts Dianne, my thanks to you for letting me know. Wishing you a 2016 full of everything you wish for yourself.

  • I think you are right and boy, so many of us can feel that birds struggle as we digest our big holiday feasts! Merry Christmas and all our love for this season and all the ones to come! 🙂

    • lirralirra

      I look forward to your comments each week Sherry, thank you! And I very much enjoy reading about your trips around the US countryside with a van full of dogs. Wishing you and yours a fabulous Christmas and an awesome 2016.

  • Love, laughter, and co-operative birds to you and yours.
    And yes, that Cormorant does epitomise Christmas. ‘Eyes bigger than its stomach’ as my father said.

    • lirralirra

      And wishing you the same EC, with another year of adventures and creative writing to keep you smiling. And, I must add my sincere thanks for your insightful comments on lirralirra and the many fascinating thoughts, ideas, book reviews and adventures you’ve shared on your blog.

  • Carole King

    Hi Kim,
    Interesting story, I look forward to the other photos.
    Thank you for all the photos that you have shared with us during the year.
    I look forward to further bird stories and images in 2016.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Lots of Love to you from Carole.

    • lirralirra

      Thank you for sharing so many kind comments Carole, I appreciate every one. I often think of that distant day way back when you were so encouraging, you’ve been part of lirralirra from the very beginning. Wishing you, your family and your Shelties a wonderful Christmas and 2016 xo

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