King Cormorants
Falkland Islands
November 2009
King Cormorants breed in dense colonies on gentle cliff-top slopes at over 100 sites around the Falklands. Many of these
colonies are mixed with breeding Rockhopper Penguins and/or Black-browed Albatross.

Nests are constructed from mud and vegetation, with 2 to 4 eggs being laid around November.

Eggs hatch in December, and chicks remain in the nest until they fledge in February.

Adults travel long distances in search of schools of small fish and crustaceans, which they catch in flocks during shallow dives.

There are approximately 60,000 breeding pairs of King Cormorants in the Falklands. The Falklands population has shown a
significant decline over recent years.
We saw a lot of nest building but no eggs yet. Maybe the cooler weather this spring made the cormorants later than usual to
lay their eggs. Above and below you can see the male's flying in with nesting materials.
The King Cormorants always flew in against the wind to make their landings which were amazing to watch.. Sometimes it was
not possible to make a smooth landing, so the cormorant would continue to the edge of the colony and then walk the nesting
materials in to its mate. This usually involved a very fast walk or run as nesting materials were readily stolen.

Below, a cormorant brings seaweed for nesting material.
Near the colony cormorants picked grass for nests...
...and then flew back with the grass.
Any available plant material qualified for nest building.
Which one is the thief?
When the male cormorant brought his nesting material to his mate, the pair would fuss with the new materials using it to
expand the nest. This was followed by an elaborate necking ceremony.
Then the male mounted his mate for a bit of ecstasy.