Pygmy Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pygmeus Pallas, 1773

Halietor pygmeus, Pallas, 1773: Simeonov et al., 1990: 94; Simeonov, Michev, 1990: 42.

Order Pelecaniformes

Family Phalacrocoracidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN=B[1(a + b(ii+iii+iv))] + C[2a(i)] + E, BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-NT, BeC-II, BoC-II, ECS-Spec 2, BD-I.

General distribution. A Sarmatian species with a restricted area in the southeastern parts of the Western Palearctic. [1, 2]. In Europe 37 323 pairs breed (75% of the world population) [3].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor, wintering with isolated breeding habitats along the Danube and the Black Sea coast. In the past it mainly bred along the Danube valley and the Black Sea coast [13, 14, 15, 16]. It was found incubating in Mandrensko Ezero lake [17] and in Burgas Lake [18]. At present it breeds on the Danube islands Malak bliznak, Tsibar, Kalnovats, Mishka and Bezimen, where 6 colonies have been found (73 pairs) [4]. The most stable habitat is Srebarna Lake with 147 pairs at the average [5]. It breeds very rarely along the Maritsa River [6, 7, 8]. The total numbers are between 100 and 500 pairs [8, 9, 10, 11]. Until the 1980s, Bulgaria was in the periphery of the winter area and the numbers of the wintering birds were under 500 individuals. In 1982-84, its shift to the Balkan peninsula started, with the valley of the Maritsa River as a centre: 5 030 and 6 950 wintering individuals [10]. In 1997 the formation of a new wintering site started in the region of the Burgas lakes: 6 850 individuals in 2000 [12]. In the 1995-2000 period, the average winter numbers varied from 7 000 to 13 000 individuals.

Habitats. Flooded island forests in the valleys of the Danube and the Maritsa, large reedbeds in Danubian and Black Sea lakes.

Biology. It breeds in mixed colonies together with large cormorants, egrets, glossy ibisses and spoonbills on white poplars, willows or amongst reed. It lays 2-5 eggs, the young ones leave the nests in July. Fish-eating.

Similar species. None.

Negative factors. Destruction and degradation of habitats in the valleys of the Danube and the Maritsa; direct killing in the region of the wintering sites in the valley of the Maritsa; disturbance during the breeding period.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). A plan for its preservation has been prepared [10]; proposals have been submitted for the places for spending nights during the winter along the valley of the Maritsa to be declared Protected Territories; some of the habitats are included in the indicative list of Protected Zones according to the Biological Diversity Act (Natura 2000); the largest sites for spending nights in the winter are guarded by volunteers.

Conservation measures needed. Measures must be envisioned in the Management Plans of the Natura 2000 territories against killing and disturbance of wintering birds [10].

References. 1. BirdLife International, 2004; 2. Cramp, 1977; 3. IWRB Database of the IWC. 1996; 4. Ornithological Database, Green Balkans; 5. Kambourova, 2004; 6. Boev et al., 1964; 7. Darakchiev et al., 1986; 8. Kostadinova, 1997; 9. Nikolov et al., 1999; 10. Nikolovet al., 2000; 11. Nankinov et al., 2004; 12. Michev & Profirov, 2003; 13. Lorenz-Liburnau, 1893; 14. Reiser, 1894; 15. Hodek, 1882; 16. Patev, 1950; 17. Georgiev, 1976; 18. Simeonov et al., 1990.

Authors: Hristo Nikolov, Simeon Marin, Nevena Kambourova, Dimitar Demerdjiev

Pygmy Cormorant (distribution map)

Pygmy Cormorant (drawing)