Witness a Bird Manage to Gulp Down a Huge Fish Bigger Than Its Whole Head

Cormorant with a fish in its beak
© iStock.com/Wirestock

Written by Megan Martin

Published: September 5, 2023

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Have you ever seen a cormorant in action? By the time you reach the end of this article, you will! In the video at the bottom of this article, you’ll get to watch as this bird successfully swallows a live fish larger than its head.

The video begins with the cormorant plucking the massive fish for the water, the fish’s stomach caught in the bird’s bill. Next, the cormorant tosses the fish ever so slightly into the air, adjusting it each time. There are even a few times that it drops the fish and has to dive to find it! Eventually, however, the bird is able to get the fish into the proper position within its bill. Then, in a way surprisingly similar to a snake, the bird begins to work the fish into its mouth and down its throat, swallowing it whole! The video then ends with just a glimpse of the fish’s tail emerging from the cormorant’s mouth, the tell-tale signs of a successful hunt of this bird.

Species Profile: Cormorant

Cormorants aren’t a single species. Instead, there are one of many species in the family Phalacrocoracidae, which includes cormorants and shags. The majority of cormorant species are medium-to-large aquatic birds that most often possess dark feathers and a large, hooked bill like that seen in the video below. All species eat fish, and, as a result, they are excellent swimmers with webbed feet. Some species of this bird have dived as deep as 150 feet, using both their feet as well as their wings to propel themselves forward.

Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) eating carp fish

All species of cormorants eat fish.


There are at least twenty-four different species of this unique bird. They are found most abundantly in the genera Microcarbo, Poikilocarbo, Urile, Phalacrocorax, and Nannopterum. One species exists in the genus Leucocarbo, which primarily consists of shags.

Watch the Shocking Video Below

Cormorants are expert hunters in the water.

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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