Difference Between Cormorant and Anhinga

Cormorant vs Anhinga

Anhinga and cormorant would look much similar for an untrained person, because of the similarities between them. Therefore, being aware of the differences between these two similar looking aquatic birds would always be beneficial for anyone. As a clue, tails and bills are important to look in differentiating an anhinga from some cormorants. They belong to one taxonomical order known as Pelecaniformes, but two families.


Sea crow, Water turkey, Craw duck, and Water buzzard are some of the common names used for cormorants. Cormorants belong to the Family: Phalacrocoracidae and they are medium to large sized aquatic birds. There are about forty species of cormorants, and their body length is about 65 centimetres in average. Cormorants’ sharply hooked bill is long and curved. Usually, the southern hemispheric species have only black and white colours, while others have many colours in their plumage. Many species have colourful skin on the face with blue, orange, red, and yellow mostly. Cormorants have webbed toes in feet to facilitate swimming. They commonly inhabit around coastal areas rather than in deep-sea waters. However, some cormorant species live around inland freshwater habitats. Their tail is short and stiff, and neck is long and slender. They nest in large colonies and both male and female help each other to build their nest, which is mostly on ground near water. After mating, both parents sit the eggs and care for the chicks. Additionally, cormorants can maintain a higher body temperature, and can sustain in colder areas as well.


Anhinga is a water bird species of the Family: Anhingidae, and range all over the world in warmer and shallow waters. Their average body weight is about 1.35 kilograms and body length is about 83 centimetres. Their neck is long and snake-like, giving the common name Snakebird. Anhinga has a long and thin bill, which is characteristically pointed. The males have glossy black to green colour feathers. Their tail is characteristically long and prominent with a fan-like appearance. They show an altering flight pattern and their wings have white spots. Before mating, the male soars, marks his potential nesting sites, and helps the female to prepare the nest with leaves and sticks. Usually, they nest in small colonies with herons and egrets; sometimes they utilize the abandoned nests of those bird species.

Difference between Cormorant and Anhinga

Cormorant Anhinga
Inhabit mostly coastal waters and rarely freshwaters Mostly inhabit freshwaters
Shorter neck compared to anhinga Longer neck compared to cormorant
Bill is long and curved with a sharp hook Bill is slender, long, and pointed
Stronger swimmer and hunts faster than anhinga Good swimmer and diver, but not as fast as cormorants
Short and stiff tail Long and fan-like tail
Can maintain a higher body temperature Body temperature is average, but not high