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The Pygmy Cormorant breeds colonially in wetlands with still or slowly flowing fresh water in coastal deltas and well-vegetated freshwater lakes. It builds a nest of grass and twigs in a low tree or reedbed, into which it lays its 3-6 eggs. Both parents incubate for 27–30 days, and nestlings become independent after 70 days.
It is a medium-sized green-glossed black bird, 45–55 cm long and with a 75–90 cm wingspan. It has a long tail and short thick bill. Adults have small white feather tufts on the head neck and underparts in the breeding season. Non-breeding birds have a white throat. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller and browner.
This species is distinguished from the Great Cormorant and the Common Shag by its much smaller size, lighter build, and long tail.