Neotropic Cormorant




Neotropic Cormorant in South America

Scientific name: Phalacrocorax olivaceus

Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Spanish name: Biguá

Migration: Non-migratory

Population estimate: > 2,000,000 ([1])

Trend: Increasing ([1])

Ramsar Criterion 6 (1% level): > 20,000 ([1])

IUCN Conservation status: Not known to have unfavourable conservation status


Distribution and abundances

Widely distributed in South America, south to Tierra del Fuego and the Malvinas / Falkland Islands. Common within the Andes southwards from Ayacucho (Peru) through the Puna zone of Bolivia, northern Chile and northwest Argentina at 3,500-4,200 m, where was favored by the introduction of trout and pejerrey (link to Abundances map). Sites reaching the 1% threshold (Ramsar Convention Criterion No. 6) are: La Segua in Ecuador, Ciénaga de los Olivillos in Venezuela, Río Paraguay in Paraguay and Laguna Mar Chiquita and Bañados del Río Dulce in Argentina, all these sites with counts > 20,100 birds.


Migration and seasonality

Non-migratory species, but evidences point out that some birds have a wide dispersion mainly along the river courses, up to 1,400 km from the born site (link to Seasonality map).



Inland and coastal wetlands, including fresh-water marshes, lakes, lagoons and rivers; blackish lagoons, marine coasts, offshore islands, estuaries, tidal creeks and saltmarshes, fishing ponds and rice fields.


Habits and interactions with human activities

Gregarious species, mainly during the breeding period and sometimes nesting in colonies of thousands of nests, mixed with other waterbirds like herons. Associated to human activities like fish and shrimp farms, rice fields, etc. Common in estuaries and harbors.



Blanco, D.E. & M. Carbonell (Eds.). 2001. El Censo Neotropical de Aves Acuáticas. Los primeros 10 años: 1990-1999. Wetlands International, Buenos Aires, Argentina & Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Memphis, USA.

Blanco, D.E., B. López-Lanús, R.A. Dias, A. Azpiroz & F. Rilla. 2006. Uso de arroceras por chorlos y playeros migratorios en el sur de América del Sur. Implicancias de conservación y manejo. Wetlands International. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Canevari, M., P. Canevari, G.R. Carrizo, G. Harris, J. Rodríguez Mata & R. Straneck. 1991. Nueva Guía de las Aves Argentinas. Fundación Acindar. Santiago de Chile. Tome I: 200 pp. and Tome II: 182 pp.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds). 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Ed., Barcelona.

Fjeldsa, J. & N. Krabbe. 1990. Birds of the High Andes. Zoological Museum, Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Olrog, C.C. 1963. Lista y distribución de las aves argentinas. Opera Lilloana IX, Tucumán.

Olrog, C.C. 1968. Las aves sudamericanas: Una guía de campo. Tomo I. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fundación - Instituto Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, Argentina.

Rodríguez Mata, J., F. Erize & M. Rumboll. 2006. Guía de Campo Collins – Aves de Sudamérica: No Passeriformes. Harper Collins Ltd.

Wetlands International. 2006. Waterbird Population Estimates – Fourth Edition. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.




Authors: Daniel E. Blanco, Román Baigún & Bernabé López-Lanús

Data compiler: Eugenio Coconier

Photographer: Pablo F. Petracci

Recommended citation: Blanco D.E., R. Baigún & B. López-Lanús. 2008. Neotropic Cormorant in South America factsheet. Wetlands International for the Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance / WCS / USAID.


([1]) Subspecies Phalacrocorax olivaceus brasiliensis (South America); not including the Tierra del Fuego population / subspecies (Phalacrocorax olivaceus hornensis), estimated in < 10,000 birds.



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