While small flocks of little pied cormorants may form when the birds are foraging or roosting (3), this species does not fish cooperatively (2). Feeding mainly by pursuit-diving (2), the little pied cormorant catches prey by performing deep underwater dives, using both feet to kick outward in unison (4). However, evidence suggests that this species is only capable of diving for short periods of time (3).
The varied diet of the little pied cormorant includes invertebrates such as freshwater crayfish, shrimps, snails and aquatic insects (2) (3) (4). Crustaceans are a particularly important component of this species’ diet (2) (3) (4) (6), with crayfish claws being shaken off before the animal is consumed (2). However, vertebrates such as fish, frogs and tadpoles are also sometimes taken (2) (3) (4) (6). In Australia, a variety of introduced fish species, including carp (Carassius auratus) and perch (Perca fluviatilis), are frequently eaten by the little pied cormorant, forming a significant portion of the diet (2). The little pied cormorant has also been recorded eating plant material, including seaweed (3) (6).
The little pied cormorant is generally regarded as being a solitary bird (3), except during the breeding season when it may form colonies (2) (3) (4). These breeding colonies are often formed alongside those of other colonial-nesting birds (2) (3), including the little black cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) (4). The little pied cormorant’s breeding season is irregular, and breeding may occur at any time of year (2), with local weather conditions and flooding determining the timing of breeding peaks (2) (3).
Nesting primarily in freshwater wetlands such as lakes and swamps (3), the little pied cormorant constructs its nest in trees or bushes (2) (3) (4), and occasionally on rocks (2). The nest itself is a platform made of sticks and bark, lined with leaves and grass (2) (3) (4). The little pied cormorant typically lays three to five eggs (2) (3), with four being most common (2). While there is no information available on the period of incubation and of fledging in this species (3), both adults are known to share in egg incubation and care of the young (4). The sudden onset of drought conditions sometimes leads the adult little pied cormorants to abandon their nests (3).
Little pied cormorant chicks are known to be predated by the Australasian harrier (Circus approximans). When the adult little pied cormorant feels threatened, it will display intensively, spreading both its wings in an alarm posture and crouching with its neck erect and beak agape as it calls (7).