Historical information

The Little Black Cormorant is mainly found in freshwater wetlands in Australia and Tasmania. It nests colonially and can sometimes be seen among Heron or Ibis colonies. This specimen has dark webbed feet which enable the bird to catch its prey underwater by diving and using the feet for propulsion. Interestingly, this species have nictitating membranes which cover the eyes underwater protecting them. The feathers of this species are not waterproof despite being commonly located in wetlands and therefore, can often be seen perched with wings outstretched in an effort to dry them after hunting for food in the water.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

This Little Black Cormorant is a slim and small specimen of entirely black colouring with some lighter specks on the back. The bill is grey and is slender and hooked at the tip. The bird has been stylized with glass eyes and is placed on a wooden mount designed to look like a perch. The neck is long and the bird is looking over its right wing. It has dark webbed feet and is standing on the platform with a paper identification tag tied the right leg.

Inscriptions & markings

12a. /Little Pied Cormorant / See Catalogue Page 42 /